Review by Damien Doherty for MPM
We’ve arrived in Ahoghill 15 minutes after the doors opened at the Diamond Rock Club up the stairs from the Diamond bar and it is already thronged.
And why wouldn’t it be, once again Derwin McFarland has booked a world class act for our delectation. This evening it’s Joel Hoekstra and Brandon Gibbs. Joel of course is the guitarist for Whitesnake and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Brandon the vocalist and guitarist for Devil City Angels and Cheap Thrill, and Poison Co-conspirator.
Opening act is Mario and Markie, a two-piece hailing from Mexico and the Czech Republic respectively who provide us with a highly entertaining acoustic set that includes Mario’s version of La Bamba and a Czech folk song from Markie. She does her best to canvas the ladies in the audience for a date with Mario; I wonder how he got on, lol.
Joel and Brandon take the stage to rapturous applause and it’s clear that this is going to be a special night of music punctuated with stories from the guys’ lives and careers. It’s been 9 years since Brandon’s last appearance here and he informs everyone how he’s been telling Joel about the energy of the DRC.
The set commences with a couple of Devil City Angels tunes. The first one, No Angels, was inspired by a girl Brandon was in love with, but who was in love with Bret Michaels, ouch! Poisons hit Every Rose Has Its Thorn has Brandon and Joel demanding audience participation, and they get it in spades.
Brandon takes a guitar solo culminating in a bit of Led Zeps Kashmir, then Hard to Say Goodbye is the sole Joel original on the set tonight from the Joel Hoekstra’s 13 project. Brandon jokes about how Joel only sings in hostage situations to aid their release, but he does a wonderful job of The Doors Love Me Two Times.
A poignant moment of the night is when Brandon speaks about growing up with a dream of becoming a musician and the support, help, and encouragement that his father gave him, before breaking into the song Rich For Life.
These few minutes have been a bonding experience for everyone and the whole venue erupts in feverous applause. Visibly emotional, Brandon leaves the stage, and Joel embarks on a virtuosic guitar solo section, displaying his immense talent.
Brandon returns for the final three songs of the night, punctuated by Whitesnake classics Is This Love, and Here I Go Again to close out the set (naturally!). Again the assembled faithful raise the roof in song, it’s been a real feel-good show.
Joel and Brandon both seem truly grateful for the love they’ve been shown and announce that they will be joining everyone after a few minutes rest to talk, take photos, and sign autographs, gentlemen both of them. There’s word that they may possibly return next year, keep your eyes peeled, this show is not to be missed.
Photography by David Stewart for MPM