Review: Graham Bonnet Band – Glasgow

”See Rainbow have replaced Dio?” “Yeah? Who with?” “A guy called Bonnet, or something like that.” “Yeah? What’s he like?” Dunno.. he’s got short hair though.” “Eh? Really? Hate him already” The scepticism was short lived however with the release of his one album with Rainbow, the majestic ‘Down To Earth’. By Christ, he had a bloody strong voice. Very loud. Listen to ‘All Night Long’. Loud, innit! His time with Rainbow was short lived, but we hadn’t heard the last from the man from Skegness. His time with Michael Schenker ended messily and is well documented. Then there was Alcatrazz, the band he formed which featured young guitar whizz kid, Yngwie Malmsteen. Throw in a spell with Chris Impellitteri, and you have a very impressive body of work. It was that body of work that made up the setlist when the Graham Bonnet Band kicked off their UK tour in Glasgow. A living, breathing rock jukebox, if you will. Midlands rockers Gin Annie have been given the job of warming up the hall for Mr Bonnet, along with the task of proving to the grizzled old rockers in attendance, that sometimes it’s good to get out of Wetherspoons early to catch the opening act. The current incarnation of Gin Annie have only been together a short while, but although rhythm guitarist Brian Green and bassist Phill ‘Hammer’ Burrows are new, you would never know. On stage, the five members look like they have been playing together for some time. There is a quiet, assured confidence about Gin Annie, mostly emanating from lead guitarist Byron Garbett and vocalist David Foster. It might be a small venue on a midweek night, but that doesn’t seem to matter as Gin Annie attack the stage from the off. It’s a short, but well received, set. Foster is confident enough to go for some audience participation, and succeeds in getting the hands in the air and the crowd singing along. He resembles a less-angry Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch, and has an impressive melodic voice. The order of the day is no-frills melodic rock, with a harder edge than most, the twin guitars see to that, as does the tub-thumping from Jack Ryland-Smith at the back. Tracks like ‘Fallin”, ‘Born To Rock & Roll’ and the brand new single ‘Chains’ all stand out. ‘Chains’ is especially memorable, showcasing a more polished sound that comes from experience. The earlier material was strong, but it’s going to be interesting to see what the band come up with on their forthcoming debut album, due January 2019… ish. ‘Chains’ is a strong marker to put down; memorable and catchy, with a great guitar swagger. The band are quite busy for the rest of the year. After the dates with Graham Bonnet Band, it’s a short break, then over to mainland Europe with Diamond Head. Find details on all their forthcoming live dates here. As an opening salvo, ‘Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live’, ‘All Night Long’ and ‘Night Games’ are pretty damn impressive; Alcatrazz, followed by Rainbow, then Graham Bonnet’s biggest solo hit to date. An opening fifteen minutes not to be sniffed at. ‘All Night Long’ is, of course, the evening’s second loudest karaoke moment. The debut Alcatrazz album, ‘No Parole From Rock ‘n’ Roll’, is a belter. The album that launched Yngwie Malmsteen into the limelight, Bonnet jokes “Yngwie Malmsteen, what a lovely young man”, while over exaggerating the word lovely. Without a doubt, the best Alcatrazz album, it’s visited on a few occasions. No ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’, but we’ll make do with ‘Too Young…’, ‘Jet To Jet’, ‘Island In The Sun’ and ‘Star Carr Lane’. Alcatrazz keyboardist and co-writer Jimmy Waldo, is part of the Graham Bonnet Band, and there seems a real sincerity when Bonnet talks about Waldo and the role that he played in the much revered Metal band. Also on stage this evening is Graham Bonnet’s partner, Beth-Ami Heavenstone on bass, new guitarist Kurt James (why have one pair of dark glasses on when you can have two!) and drummer Mark Banquecha. The band are tight, with Kurt James settling in very well. Like all good guitarists, he has a flash side to him, playing the guitar one-handed while leaning against the PA, that kind of thing. Also, he plays a Strat, so that’s extra brownie points from me, especially when he changes over to the battered looking red one for some of the Michael Schenker material. Graham Bonnet’s time with Schenker produced, like Rainbow, only one album, but, again like Rainbow, it was a decent one. ‘Assault Attack’ was released in 1982, and perhaps only got the acclaim it deserved much later. The title track, ‘Rock You To The Ground’ and the sublime ‘Desert Song’ are all aired, with Bonnet having a good-natured joke at the expense of Schenker. Time for another track from the rock jukebox with ‘Goodnight And Goodbye’, the sole cut aired from Bonnet’s album with Chris Impellitteri. It’s not all nostalgia though, the Graham Bonnet Band have a new album out, and ‘Livin’ In Suspicion’ and ‘Long Island Tea’ are the chosen ones from ‘Meanwhile, Back In The Garage’. ‘Livin’ In Suspicion’ was written by Russ Ballard, who of course wrote ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’, and when Kurt James blasts out the opening riff tonight, it’s high-fives all round the crowd as voices are raised to the sky in triumph. Rounding off the evening is another gem from ‘Down To Earth’; the stonking ‘Lost In Hollywood’. “Hollywood… what a fucking shit hole! Why do I live there?”, offers Bonnet by way of an introduction. Why indeed, Graham? One gripe from the evening perhaps would be that there wasn’t much storytelling. I would have loved to hear some tales about Blackmore and all the other amazing guitarists that Bonnet has worked with, but alas, it was not to be. The Graham Bonnet Band are on tour for another few more weeks, all dates here. Bring your singing voices, you will need them. Review: Dave S Photos: Dave J [gallery type='flickr' user_id='132278830@N06' view='photosets' photoset_id='72157696806065542' media='photos' columns='3' tag_mode='any' sort='date-posted-desc' per_page='41' layout='square' caption='title' thumb_size='s' main_size='z' ]]]>

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