First up tonight Hollowstar from St.Ives who I had not heard before but I am a complete convert now. The band kick off with “Money” and my jaw is on the floor. Dripping pure classic rock at its best, what a voice Joe has, just incredible and what a bass player. We get “Lay Down” now, the first track from last year’s stunning Some Things Matter and if it’s possible, things just get better. What a guitarist Phil is as he and fellow axeman Tom feed off each other with Jack bringing up the rear in true classic rock drummer style. We get two more from the above EP in the uptempo “New Age Lullaby” and “Feel the Burn” with Joe’s powerful voice to the fore, the band kicks in, just a stunning EP all round.
The guitar kicks in from Phil as “Sweet Suicide” hits us about the face, the track has hints of Thunder about it, not a bad thing by any means. The band end a far too short set with “Let You Down”, ending the show with new single “All I Gotta Say” with its catchy chorus hooks and killer guitar. I don’t often say this and apologies to the following two bands Gin Annie & Graham Bonnet but I could go home now a very happy man, the future of rock is safe and I saw it tonight with Hollowstar. A killer set from start to finish from a killer band, go see them, buy the EPs etc and just rock out with a smile on your face. If you like the band, check out the acoustic version of “Money” here.
Next up Gin Annie from Wolverhampton who describe themselves as a hard melodic rock band, the band start off with the title track from last years New Bad Habit EP, a nice rocking start to their set. There is not a lot of room on the stage for the five piece with the way they all move about as we get another from the same EP in the form of “All I Want” with its drums and crunching guitar intro as David’s smooth rock voice carries the song forward.
The single “Fallin’” next and a big step up from last year’s material particularly the guitar sound, one of my favourite tracks from them tonight with a great hook-laden chorus. A real rock driven track now as the band get “Next to Me” before new single “Chains” thumps in with a real mature sound which bodes well for the bands direction. The band end an all-too short set with never a truer statement in “Born to Rock & Roll”; the band are a joy to listen to and watch. I love a band that moves when playing and these boys never stopped. I would urge you to catch them live if you can and check out their music on Spotify, you will not be disappointed.
The main man now in the form of Graham Bonnet, we start off with Alcatrazz from 1983 and the fantastic “Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live” which really shows off Kurt Jame’s superb guitar skills, the track is ably carried along by Graham’s voice which is still amazing at his age and he is also joined on stage by keyboard man Jimmy Waldo who served alongside Graham in Alcatrazz. A riff opens up which can only herald “All Night Long”, the first track from the Rainbow Down to Earth album and a classic to which the packed venue cheers and sings along with, the band and Graham are enjoying themselves and the ever-smiling Beth-Ami on bass is a joy to watch as she interacts with the whole band.
Another stunner early in the set from 1981, we get “Night Games”, always a favourite of mine and tonight is no exception, Kurt is a great addition to the band as he and Graham interact on stage all night and having Jimmy on keyboards makes all the difference tonight. We get some “California Air” now from 2016’s The Book which was fantastic tonight, definitely one of my favourites off that album ably backed up in the vocals by Beth-Ami and the guitar work by Kurt. We stick with warmer climes with another Alcatrazz song in the form of “Island in the Sun”, quickly followed by the faster paced “Jet to Jet” from the same album, not quite hitting those old high notes but the voice is still there. The first of three tonight from the Michael Schenker Group album Assault Attack in the form of “Rock You to the Ground” with its swagger carried along on the drums by Mark at the rear and Kurt’s short riffing, there are times you forget how many great bands Graham has been involved with and still producing quality solo material today.
We head back to “Starcarr Lane” now and the quality of his material never diminishes as the tracks from the Alcatrazz album No Parole from Rock N’ Roll still stands up well today which is all credit to his voice and the musicians he always has around him. A track now from his short lived Impellitteri days with the stunning “Goodnight and Goodbye” from 1988’s Stand in Line album, a highlight tonight for me. We head back to MSG country now with the fantastic “Desert Song” before heading “Into the Night”, another favourite of mine from the The Book. We are treated to some fine guitar solo work from Kurt which shows off his style well before the thirsty crowd are treated to the rocking “Long Island Tea” with its tasty guitar intro. The drums and guitar herald an “Assault Attack”, the last track tonight from his MSG days and it does not disappoint, the guitar intro of the next song needs no introduction as we are treated to “Since You Been Gone” a classic that will last for ever. The all-too short set gets to the last song and I get a bit excited here as one of my favourite Rainbow tracks ends the night with “Lost in Hollywood” with its killer drum intro, always brings a smile to my face as I sing along.
A truly fantastic night again at Bannermans with a happy crowd leaving the venue stopping to chat to the bands as they go, Graham had the odd sound issue with some people preferring the sound further back in the crowd during his set and his own in-ear monitors failed him but he laughed it off and carried on. I always enjoy Graham live and tonight is no exception, he is getting on but he still belts out those songs and the whole band interacted well with each other and the crowd and were having fun as they should. Graham has nothing to prove with his music pedigree behind him and is still producing new material. I hope he keeps it going and comes back soon, get out there and catch the man live as you will never be disappointed, no one has a voice like the man.