Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Graham Bonnet Band Live Report

I'm sure this gig was billed at the main Islington Academy although I could be wrong, however when I got to the queue I saw lots of non hairy, non ugly, girls in the queue. Not GB fan material at all unless Graham has suddenly become teeny bopper fodder! It turns out the the GB Band were playing the smaller room Islington Academy 2. Either Graham didn't sell enough or he was due there anyway. The smaller Academy is a 250 capacity room at the side of the main Academy. I've been there a few times before for death and thrash gigs and it's not a bad little place although they tend to have an overly loud PA there.

As I walked in the crowd was already fairly decent at around 100 and would probably fill out to close to 200 by the time Graham came on so pretty full for such a cosy place. 200 would've been sparse in the big room next door though.

The first band was already playing what I guess was either the opening or second number. They were a hairy old mob by the name of Desolation Angels. I've heard of them before and heard them here and there but their NWOBHM doesn't really float my boat or so I thought. Well to be honest they actually got my head nodding on some of their songs. They sound like a mix between Motorhead and old Saxon. They have not a single atom of their being set outside of the early 80s UK heavy metal scene. The old rocker crowd seemed to enjoy DA a lot. They were OK indeed I must admit.

Next up were Evyltyde another UK band with a female singer. She didn't have grit in her voice like say Leather Leone or Doro. She sang much smoother. Their songs were ever so slightly doomy and always pretty mid paced. The root of the band is pure 80s UK heavy metal as with opening band DA, but their execution was a little bit more modern especially the guitars which didn't have a massive old school flavour. They were OK but I found the vocals to be a little monotonous from the young lady. The music in the band is quite cool trad metal though.

Finally at around 8pm or so (for a curfew of 10pm exists for Saturday nights), The GB band took to the stage minus the man himself until finally Graham strode on looking very lean and trim for a man who's close to 70. I didn't know this at the time but it turns out Graham has unfortunately been sick and had to cut short an earlier gig in the tour because he couldn't continue. However he did this full gig as it was the last of the night.

I must admit I don't know Graham's career very well at all. I know all the band's he's been in but I haven't heard all the songs he's done with his many bands apart from the really famous ones. His band consists of a Hispanic looking young American chap on guitars, His girlfriend Beth on bass and Mark Zonder on drums. I can't comment on her bass skills but she's quite a pretty lady and Graham has landed on his feet there for a man of his age! The guitarist was excellent and is a great find for Graham. The drumming was excellent too and I guess MZ is an amazing drummer that drum afficionados will was lyrical about. I'm not into drums personally.

Graham strode on to a loud and very cheery reception and I think he sound like a very humble guy indeed with his in between song banter hinting at his amiable style and personality. He's basically a typical, chirpy Northerner although he's lost his accent over the years. He's still got that charm and wit about him. He actually gave some good insight into some of the many amazing guitarists he's worked with over the years and he played not far off 2 hours. For a sick man we should be thankful for that. I must admit I had no idea about some of the songs he played having not followed his career but I still enjoyed them, although it's the hits that made the biggest impression on me and I guess most of the crowd. By the hits I mean songs like Night Games, All Night Long, Since You've Been Gone basically. The rest of the set contained classics for sure but I've personally never heard them before or at least not often enough to recognise them, though many of this old man crowd did and were singing along.

Unfortunately there's no two ways of saying this but either Graham's illness was too bad or he just can't hit the high notes any more in any of the songs. He's never really been a high pitched crooner anyway but when a song does call for a high he opens his mouth really wide but the sound coming out is totally strained. Call it age or sickness but he just can't really hit the heights of old so to speak. The thing is his normal register is still good and Graham should stick to that and sing for a few more years yet before he finally calls it a day although I think that day is sadly not far away for Graham. He still sang very well up to a point but in no way was he as good as his hey day and who can be at 68 or however old he is. That he's still up on stage and rocking for a room full old diehards is a miracle in itself. I know this would've been a huge long shot but I would've loved for him to play a couple of Impellitteri tunes especially of course Stand in Line, but I guess his tenure there is just not famous enough and people only know him from Rainbow and Alcatrazz. My triple whammy of three gigs in three days is finally complete. Mental note - try not to do this again!

Eyes of the World
(Rainbow song)
All Night Long
(Rainbow song)
God Blessed Video
(Alcatrazz song)
Will You Be Home Tonight
(Alcatrazz song)
Night Games
Suffer Me
(Alcatrazz song)
(Michael Schenker Group song)
Love's No Friend
(Rainbow song)
Desert Song
(Michael Schenker Group song)
Mirror Lies
The Witchwood
(Alcatrazz song)
Only One Woman
(The Marbles song)
Island in the Sun
(Alcatrazz song)
Since You Been Gone
(Russ Ballard cover)
Assault Attack
(Michael Schenker Group song)
Lost in Hollywood
(Rainbow song)

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