First off apologies to the two support bands tonight. Unfortunately I didn’t catch their sets as I was interviewing Joe just before the gig. By the time I nipped to the cloakroom, grabbed myself a pint, and made my way down to the front, local lads Rank Berry were just finishing off their last song. I’ll maybe catch them another time.
I’ve never been to an unplugged evening before so wasn’t sure what to expect. I love the sound of a cranked Marshall, searing guitar solos, and drums that give you tinnitus for a week, so I was a bit worried about how tonight would turn out. Would I get bored? Would the songs work on acoustic guitars? I have to say my fears were put to rest tonight. Joe Lynn Turner and his band played an awesome set.
It’s a substantial turnout for a Thursday night in Glasgow and the venue looks packed. A huge cheer goes up as Joe walks onto the stage, waves at the crowd, and takes a seat next to his guitar. “How are you doing tonight?” results in another cheer. He’s definitely a popular man in Glasgow and even before he’s played a note everyone in the audience is smiling.
After a short chat Joe announces he’d like to start with something by Rainbow, more cheers from the audience, “this one goes out to all the broken hearts in the world including mine”, and with his acoustic on his lap, and Ross McEwen (guitarist) sitting next to him, they launch into “Stone Cold”. It’s immediately obvious just from the first few bars of the song that Joe has still got it in the vocal department. His voice just sounds amazing, as good as it ever did on those original Rainbow recordings. It’s hard to believe he’s now 63; there are many singers around his age who’s voices are completely shot, but Joe manages even the highest notes with ease. Very impressive and by the reaction at the end of the song the rest of the crowd thinks so too.
It’s a very intimate setting and Joe has a great rapport with the audience, responding to their comments with good humour. For the second song some young musicians join the stage: James Bird (Guitar), Stewart McArthur (bass), and Ryan McEwen (percussion). Joe gives a bit of background on the next song and describes what it means to him “Street of Dreams”. Glasgow is happy to sing along with Joe to the chorus on this, another crowd favourite.
Joe is in a very chatty mood tonight and it’s nice to hear the stories behind these songs, and how they were written. The next song “Mystery of the Heart” is from his time in the Hughes Turner Project. It’s not a song I’m really familiar with but on the strength of what I heard I think I’ll need to go out and give those albums a listen.
“You know we lost a very, very good friend a couple of years ago”, shouts of “Ronnie” from the crowd make it clear that we know what Joe’s talking about. “I always tell this story because it means so much to me. I spoke to him before I left the States for a South American tour and he was in remission, he was doing ok…so I’m in Rio and I get this Skype call that Ronnie had passed and I just couldn’t contain myself really, I don’t think anyone could. The upshot of this is we all went to a rock club, all the musicians in Rio, and we got drunk and just played nothing but Dio songs. I gotta tell you that was one of the most joyous/saddest occasions of our entire lives…this one goes to you Ronnie. God bless you”. I have to say Joe’s version of “Catch the Rainbow” brought a lump to my throat and I don’t think I was the only one in the audience who felt that way. It was a great tribute, a great version, and the crowd sang their hearts out. I think it got the biggest cheer of the night and being such a big Dio fan it was a highlight for me. Great stuff.
The next three tracks are songs you may not associate with Joe and he runs through “Jailhouse Rock”, “Dust In The Wind” (Kansas), and “Moondance” (Van Morrison) which were unexpected but sounded great. After “Dust in the Wind” he chatted to the crowd and jokingly made the comment “Martin don’t record that, don’t print that”….ha. It’s ok Joe I’ll not print it but it was flattering that he remembered my name as he must meet loads of people and do tons of interviews. I think “Moondance” might have been a personal favourite of Ryan McEwen (percussion) as he really looked like he was loving playing that one.
“I think it’s time for Deep Purple” and jokingly adds “Thanks for that ripple of enthusiasm”. Everyone in the venue is ready for some Deep Purple and for me it’s great to hear “King of Dreams”, and “Love Conquers All” for the first time live. Apparently the verses in “King of Dreams” are about Joe and the chorus’s are about Ritchie, which I didn’t know before.
The rest of the set was made up of classic rock tracks but not from Joe’s back catalogue. They were fun tracks that had the crowd singing along, and I enjoyed them, but it would have been good to hear some more of Joe’s own material. I guess it’d need to be a 12 hour set to fit in everyone’s favourites though.
All in all it was a great night. Joe’s band may have been young in years but they did the job. I was particularly impressed by Stewart McArthur on bass who had some nice bass runs on Hush and a nice walking bass line on “I Saw Her Standing There”. He also had a small solo spot on Black Night. Ross McEwen also impressed playing some very tasteful solos on his acoustic guitar.
I came out of the venue on a high and would definitely recommend that if Joe’s playing in a venue near you then you should go along. The only complaint I have is that I wish the set could have been longer as it all seemed to be over too soon.
- Stone Cold (Rainbow song)
- Street of Dreams (Rainbow song)
- Mystery of the Heart (Hughes Turner Project song)
- Catch the Rainbow (Rainbow song)
- Jailhouse Rock (Elvis)
- Dust In The Wind (Kansas)
- Moondance (Van Morrison cover)
- King of Dreams (Deep Purple song)
- Love Conquers All (Deep Purple song)
- Roadhouse Blues (The Doors cover)
- Hush (Joe South cover)
- I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles cover)
- Tush (ZZ Top cover)
- Smoke on the Water (Deep Purple song)
- Black Night (Deep Purple song – encore)