By Lindsay Smith-Boam
(Photo Credits: Lindzrs Media Photograhy)
The opportunity to see Graham Bonnet perform after a couple of decades of not, was too good a one to miss. I’d seen Graham perform with Rainbow and a couple of times since and thought him to be entertaining and pretty good. However, he is now in his mid/ late 60’s and after years of top notes, screams, touring and rock & roll, rumours of him having lost his range and power - I was unsure as to how well his voice was doing or if I was going to feel let down – I’ve grown up with his songs and I still play them to this day.
The Robin 2 is an awesome venue and a midlands favourite with many bands, so it was no huge surprise that there were quite a few live music revellers in for a Thursday night.
The first band of the night was Piston who have been around since 2012 and are pretty well known, receiving lots of airplay on Planet Rock and other stations and performing many festivals this year. They are a great live band and Rob Angelico, Jack Edwards, Luke Allatt, Brad Newlands and Stuart Egan performed an enjoyable solid set of some around half a dozen of their own tracks, showing that they have a great deal of experience and sound awesome. They have a great classic rock feel to their music which was appreciated by the crowd and a great version of Proud Mary closed the set.
Evyltyde are an up and coming London band who mix up the music to give a wonderful melodic rock sound with many genres crossing in from metal / gothic/ thrash. The band, Danny Merton (Guitar); Hannah Delany (Vocals) and Noah Scott (Bass) had to work hard to get the more melodic rock appreciating crowd interested and to their credit they did – a great performance of all their 8 songs from them all – Hannah’s vocals were powerful and clear and Noah ended up on the main floor playing out the final track – really great guys and very enjoyable.
The room was getting very warm, filling up more and the crowd moved forward in anticipation.
Starting his set with Too Drunk and the iconic Night Games, we were all obviously in for a treat with Graham being in fine form.
Alcatrazz songs, Schenker and Rainbow classics to very recent new material (California Air), Graham had the crowd from the first note. His long-time friend and Alcatrazz band mate Jimmy Waldo was on the keys, Beth-Ami Heavenstone on bass and two new members, Joey Taffola, guitar and Mark Benquechea on drums all gave 100% judging by the sweat dripping off them by the end of the night.
Joey was very impressive in delivering the classic Blackmore riffs of the Rainbow songs without trying too hard to emulate the Man in Black, instead giving them his own style and executing them all very well. Everyone there would have been air guitaring along in their heads, listening to every note, so he was under considerable pressure.
Mark played his heart out – great technical drummer who again had a lot to live up to with the power and fan familiarity of Cozy Powell’s drumming on many of Graham’s hits.
Beth-Ami has a great tone and the rhythm section really did hold up its end on the very hot night…
Night Games, Dessert Song, Jet to Jet, SOS, Into the Night, Since You’ve Been Gone, Assault Attack, Eyes of the World, Hiroshima Mon Amour and finally Lost In Hollywood – phew it was hot – track wise and temperature wise. You could have wrung them all out – for a man in his mid/late 60’s and performing in a very warm club – he was really excellent with a professionalism and air about him that reminded me why this guy has been around and very successful for decades.
Great appreciation from the crowd – a few comments from folks wondering if a backing tape helped a little but most not seeming to care.
The band came out to chat and mingle with their fans straight off stage and there were loads of sweaty hugs all round. No one was rushed away and everyone was friendly. A thoroughly enjoyable (but warm!) evening’s entertainment from all the bands.
** PHOTOGRAPHS MAY ONLY BE USED WITH PRIOR CONSENT FROM Lindzrs Media Photography / DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA **