22 min read

Review by Richard Henry for MPM

So, on a freezing cold Sunday night, it was a classic hard rock affair, with both the Graham Bonnet Band and the Dead Daisies playing in The Limelight in Belfast! Now this was billed to be Graham Bonnet acoustic shows, but it was pretty clear when I got there that wasn’t going to be the case, that was a nice surprise!

Graham Bonnet Band up first!

Tight enough stage for the guys with everything pushed right up to the front, so on they come, the main man himself looking pretty damn good for a 74-year-old, and despite coming off a cold, he was in fine form vocally!

Eyes of the World kicks off the proceedings, from the 2016 “The Book” album, we get a keyboard intro while the band walk onstage, a driving stomper of a track with a certain eastern flavor to it, when the solo breaks, guitarist Conrado Pesinato certainly channels his inner Blackmore!

Speaking of a certain Mr. Blackmore, up next is the Rainbow Classic “All Night Long”, and where you could tell some of the crowd knew the first track, everyone was singing along to this one, I love that, it’s the whole venue in unison with everyone loving what the band is doing, bassist Beth-Ami Heavenstone holding down the low end all night and bopping away and doing backup vocals, what else can you say, classic track!

Night Games is next from the 1981 “Line Up”, after an ode to his lost friends Cozy Powell and John Lord, it’s a more mid paced rocker, I still have to remember this guy is 74 and singing this stuff, because he isn’t missing a note and he is pushing himself the whole gig, no laying back for Graham!

Now this man has played with a few decent guitarists, and next we have a track from MSG’s third album Assault Attack called “Desert Song”, bringing the tempo right down at the start of this with a moody intro, before we get a classic Schenker riff, there are some serious notes in this and yet again Graham delivers, great solo yet again from Conrado who really excels at delivering the vibe of the original player but adding his own personality, hard to do but he does it well!

If you don’t know this song……… “Since You’ve Been Gone” is up next, a complete and utter classic rock staple, yet again this is one where everyone in the venue is singing and Graham gets the crowd to help out in the chorus, great to hear this done by the original singer, and yeah when it jumps up in key after the middle part, he nails it!

Another track from the MSG album and this time it is the title track “Assault Attack”, great use of the keyboard player to harmonize the riff at the start, aggressive is the best word for this one, and the vocal delivery certainly shows that!

Short set tonight with 7 songs and last one is “Lost in Hollywood”, from the 2016 “The Book” album, up the tempo again, I might add great vocals from all members of the band adding harmonies all night and a great overall outfit live, I was really impressed with the entire performance and you have to yet again think the age this guy is consistently performing at, if you get the chance to catch him, make sure you do it!

Dead Daisies up next and it’s been 4 years since they last played here, the place was pretty much filled out by the time the guys got to the stage

Long Way to Go is track number one from the “Make Some Noise” album, great choice of opener because it’s a massive singalong for everyone in the chorus, interesting to hear Glenn doing Corabis vocals on this and as expected, it sounds pretty damn good, Doug marking his side of the stage and giving the photographers plenty of shots, none of the band is lacking in charisma anyway, Brian Tichy hits like a truck, David Lowy just holds it all down like a certain Malcolm Young would do and Glenn, well the voice of rock, yeah pretty accurate as he demonstrates a lot this evening!

Unspoken is next from the “Holy Ground” album, it’s just got a swagger to it, with a laid back almost Paul Rodgers vocal performance, then picks up for the chorus which yet again you can hear the crowd singing away, I loved looking round and just seeing a sea of smiling faces, everyone loving what the band where presenting onstage, Doug launches into a trademark solo on this one, back into that chorus, driving track!

Rise Up, from “Burn It Down”, change of guitar as this one is tuned a good bit down, more aggressive than the previous two tracks and we get the two guitarists swapping sides of the stage, backing vocals on the chorus and yet again a bit of help from the crowd on this one, Brian in the background pulling faces and beating the heck out of the kit, Doug shredding on this one and yet again really playing to the crowd, you genuinely can tell these guys are loving life!

Dead and Gone from the same album as the last track hits next, this is classic Daisies as far as the riff, this really could be a DC song with that verse riff, imagine Brian Johnson singing this one, its unmistakable in the chorus that it’s the Daisies, they have a knack of a proper singable chorus, I love the drum groove to this, it just stomps along!

Radiance from the album of the same name is next, this is heavy, slow and broody but just heavy, love the riff to this one, lovely slow chorus and great backup vocals from the guys really brings this one to life, by the time it picks up near the end, everyone’s heads are nodding along ion the place, Glenn doing some vocal acrobatics and Brian getting a chance to get some drum fills out of him, great track and maybe more modern sounding than some of the stuff they have!

Face Your Fear is next from the new album, really cool intro with Doug getting the riff out of his guitar using his volumes and switches before it launches into a straight up headbanger of a riff, just drives hard before we half time the tempo pre chorus, straight into a trademark chorus with Glenn soulful and soaring over the top of it! Really loving the new album, it defiantly has more bite and edge than previous albums

Bustle and Flow, from “Holy Ground”, driving bassline on this with an almost Whitesnake pre-chorus, I could definitely hear this on Slip of the Tongue era, it’s that Judgement Night sort of groove and riff in parts, and, and it has cowbell, and we all know, you need more cowbell always, Doug lets rip yet again, effortlessly as only a top player can!

A cover song next, one that they did on the “Make Some Noise” album, we have Creedence Clearwater Revivals “Fortunate Son” up next, everyone singing along “it ain’t me”, I mean it’s an absolute classic track that people know even if they don’t know who it is, the whole place is singing along to this!

I felt sorry for that drumkit for what it was about to face, splitting up the set we had a drum solo from Brian Tichy, rolls, cross patterns, dynamics, double bass, energy, yeah it had all of that and also the poor kit getting proper battered, great entertaining solo, and also worth mentioning, he played the whole set without a break whereas the other guys got to go offstage for 5 mins at this point!

We go back to 1974s Burn album for a near 9-minute version of the song “Mistreated”, an ode to Gary Moore at the start of this one, this is yet again where I have to marvel at Glenn Hughes, the guy at 71, has the range he had in 1974, he has the soul in his voice and he absolutely gets to let loose vocally on this one, the guys are great and Doug’s solos are fantastic, but Glenn is just the absolute star of this song, incredible!

Born to Fly up next from the new album, this one reminds me of Song and a Prayer from the Make Some Noise album, great soaring chorus on this and again the whole crowd gets involved and helps out, the two guitar players swapping sides again and getting to interact with the whole crowd, they put on a great show and really get the crowd onside, fantastic performance!

Burn it Down from the album of the same name, this starts with like a swampy delta blues style riff at the start, with Glenn getting down and soulful on his vocals, with just a bass drum keeping time and the crowd clapping away to it, bit of an odd time chorus, but not jarring in anyway, just takes the track in a different direction, classic Doug solo in this, melodic, bluesy and shredding all wrapped up in a parcel that Doug excels at!

Hypnotize Yourself, from the new album, slower in tempo and more “slow and easy” before it kicks into a chorus that’s hard and energetic with Glenn up there in range, complete contrast to the verses, it kicks like a mule this one, so much light and shade in one song, breaks down for the solo then starts to build in intensity as does the solo, back into that driving riff, love it!

My Fate takes us back to the “Holy Ground” album, change of guitars and we are down in tuning again, but a shuffle slow verse, with a really nice vocal from Glenn, showing his low range and emotion in his voice, then into a great big slab of a riff, Doug gets a chance to blow off a bit on this not just in the middle but at the end of the track as well

Shine on is the last track before the band go off stage, again off the new album, and if you have been paying attention, the majority of the set has been of the new album and the previous album “Holy Ground”, and I think for me the compliment has to be, that I am not going ah I wish they had played @@@, all the tracks are strong, there are no tracks tonight that are filler, just solid track after track and many of them enhanced with Glenn on vocals it has to be said!

So that’s it 14 songs, no, of course it isn’t! I could see the setlist, that probably gave it away!

First encore track is actually the first track I ever heard by these guys, and that is the track “Midnight Moses”, also it’s the only track played from “Revolucion”, the crowd all singing “hey, hey, hey, hey, great audience participation, now I have to admit for years I didn’t know it wasn’t their track, it’s from the Sensational Alex Harvey band, worth a listen as well if you haven’t heard the original!

Back to 1974 for the last track of the evening “Burn” from the album of the same name, Glenn (the voice of rock) Hughes, ok so they are tuned down a step from Purple but c’mon, at 71 to be hitting those notes and enjoying it, mouthing to the crowd be loves them, wow, what more can be said about this man, the band nailed it with Doug and Glenn eye to eye when he plays that classic solo, Doug nails it, same as he did on the Whitesnake DVD, a sensational end to the show, these guys are having a great time up there, playing their brand of classic rock, and if you get the chance to see them either on the last two U.K shows or wherever you are reading this from, go do it!

Photography by MPM

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