Keyboard legend Don Airey was in town last night at the Underworld to start off a European tour and I ventured along not really sure of what to expect to be honest. I was expecting a support as advertised in the poster outside, but it turns out there was none. So thank god for a pint of beer and the mp3 player as I hung around 2 hours till 9pm waiting for the show to start. The turnout was low to begin with but gradually the venue filled out a little but still a very poorly attended gig, but I guess this was always going to be the case. Possibly 100-140 or so hardy old school rock fans gathered to pay homage to keyboard wiz, Mr. Airey and his gang of hired hands.
Well I can safely say he didn't dissapoint and his band are super cool to boot. On the drum stool was legendary Jethro Tull skinsman Clive Bunker and he whipped up a storm despite being even older than Don. On bass, Lawrence Cottle and on guitars Rob Harris, interestingly enough the lead guitarist with Jamiroquai no less. On vox was of course Carl Sentance. I have come across Carl's vocals quite recently on another album and was suitably impressed on record and was expecting to be impressed live and once again I wasn't let down one bit. The band was very enthusiastic and they are super professional players of course and this showed in how they delivered the songs. Mr. Airey himself shredded the keys as only he knows how.
He had his old Hammond set up at one side and a more modern Yamaha on the other. The set list was a mix between the hard rock anthems of Don's previous bands and also the more progressive elements of his recent A Light in the Sky CD. The set list was roughly as below though I think I am missing two songs as I didn't quite catch the titles but I am sure they were Deep Purple tracks. Not being a massive fan of the Purple I can't say for certain what they were but they sounded familiar as most Purple tracks do.
I must say Don's band is very tight indeed. They are all so accomlished and play with such ease on their instruments without being showy or over the top in any way. I must admit I actually quite enjoyed some of the long instrumentals from the new album. They were progressive and still melodic yet very expansive, reflecting the subject matter of the album quite well. They somehow reminded me of the Polish band Riverside in the atmosphere created. In Carl Sentance the band has a rock solid vocalist, somewhere in between Ian Gillan and Graham Bonnet. His voice is sometimes a bit one dimensional but he has good power even if the delivery is sometimes a bit samey. The crowd pleasers in the set were delivered with glee and were greatfully lapped up by the 100 or so fans who turned up to watch. The audience were definitely happy with the performance and the band were recalled for two seperate encores before taking a final bow.
This gig was a surprise for me and the first time ever I have heard some of the Rainbow/Purple classics live and it was a real treat. An enjoyable night and well worth attending to hear top class musicians delivering top class songs.
A Light in the Sky
The Pale Blue Dot
Rocket to the Moon
2 long new instrumentals
Somewhere over the Raindbow
All Night Long
Since You've Been Gone
So Glad We Made It