Gig review – Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow – Stone Free Festival 2017

Rainbow’s new 2015 line up is a flag of nations – keyboard Jens Johansson (Sweden), bass Bob Curiano, drums David Keith (both USA) and vocalist Ronnie Romero (Chile).

I had high hopes of this being a blinder, alas for me it ended up being a real damp squib.  The sound was piss poor, his amp does not turn up to 11 apparently!.  In this day and age you’d think they could have spent a few £$ on some big screens, but no – so all the poor sods at the back and high up in the gods couldn’t really see what was going on (as it happens not much as I think Rickie’s red shoes had Velcro on them so stuck he was in one spot for inordinate amounts of time!).  And don’t get me going on about the minimalist stage set-up – they must have spent just shy of £50, or Richie still thinks he’s living in the 70’s playing Budokan – times have moved on mate and your audience expects a show!

We all know Richie is a bit weird and difficult to work with, perhaps all that medieval renaissance crap has sent him over the top.  That said he is still a great guitarist

The backdrop had some pretty poor graphics throughout the gig.  Photographs of old Rainbow ticket stubs and the late great Ronnie James Dio (let’s face it that was their greatest period).  The eccentric Blackmore didn’t say a word throughout and communicated with the band and the audience via hand gestures.  Interestingly I gave him my own 2 fingered hand gesture but he couldn’t see me (tee hee)!!

For ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ we had a guest appearance by its writer Russ Ballard – they eventually found him a guitar!  OK so there were some highlights – i.e. they played some good songs but these fleeting bits of brilliance were let down by mind numbingly boring and unnecessarily long solos by the keyboardist and drummer – big yawn.  Plus the lead singer had real problems communicating with the audience (his accent and lack of talent come to mind) but he did hold a tune in places.

All in all the Rainbow and Deep Purple back catalogue were done a grave disservice on the night – you’d get a better evening out watching a tribute band.

Much better were ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’, ‘Burn’, and ‘Black Night’ during which the band walked off the stage leaving those of a more passionate persuasion singing along to the riff.  A quick snippet from ‘Woman from Tokyo’ was woven into ‘Man on a Silver Mountain’ but for me it missed the mark.Rainbow Set List

  • I Surrender(Difficult to Cure 1981)
  • Mistreated(Deep Purple – Burn 1974)
  • Since You Been Gone – (Down to Earth 1979)
  • Man on the Silver Mountain(Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow 1975)
  • Soldier of Fortune – (Deep Purple – Stormbringer 1974)
  • All Night Long – (Down to Earth 1979)
  • Difficult to Cure(Difficult to Cure 1981)
  • Child in Time(Deep Purple in Rock 1970)
  • Stargazer (Rising 1976) click to watch video
  • Still I’m Sad(Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow 1975)
  • Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll(Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll 1979)
  • Black Night – (Deep Purple single 1970)
  • Burn(Deep Purple – Burn 1974)
  • Catch the Rainbow(Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow 1975)
  • Smoke on the Water – (Deep Purple – Machine Head 1972)

I was knackered by the end of a full day of RnR – especially after standing for 5 hours in the Indigo.  I enjoyed most of the day but was really disappointed with Rainbow.  There were plenty of empty seats and closed sections – the pulling power is simply not there anymore.  I’ll live of my previous memories of Rainbow when they were good!

Marko – 20 June 2017

Gig Review – Sweet at Stone Free Festival 2017

This was a complete left field surprise for me.  I loved them in the early 70’s. Glam rock, make up, ambiguity, loud guitars – the very antithesis of ‘TOTP’.

Today, two versions of The Sweet are still active with original members – Andy Scott’s Sweet and Steve Priest’s Sweet.  Brian Connolly and Mick Tucker sadly passed away in their 50’s. It was Andy Scott’s version on display today.

As it happens two of their naffest songs ‘Wig-Wam Bam and Little Willy’ really had the crowd singing along.  As Andy noted about all their audiences “they all sing along no matter what it says on their t-shirt”.  The most bizarre song of the night was the synth laden ‘Love Is Like Oxygen’ which went off into a full-blown version of ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ before returning to the song.  The audience were well into it bopping and singing along in unison.

It was definitely a hell raising, blockbuster with a touch of OAP rampage (yes I know awful puns).  As someone said on my YouTube site after watching the video – Andy has a touch of the Mick Box about him – you decide!!

Sweet Set List

  1. Action – (Give Us a Wink 1976)
  2. New York Groove – (Hello cover)
  3. Hell Raiser – (1973 single)
  4. The Six Teens – (Desolation Boulevard 1974)
  5. AC/DC(Sweet Fanny Adams 1974)
  6. Set Me Free – (Sweet Fanny Adams 1974)
  7. Teenage Rampage – (1974 singles) click to view video
  8. Wig-Wam Bam / Little Willy – (1972 singles)
  9. Love Is Like Oxygen – (inc “Fanfare for the Common man”) – (Level Headed 1978)
  10. Fox On The Run – (Desolation Boulevard 1974)
  11. Blockbuster – (1973 single) click to view video
  12. Ballroom Blitz – (1973 single)

I’m glad I saw them, but it’s always with a tinge of sadness when you never actually see the original line up.  Alas time waits fore no man.

Marko – 20 June 2017

Gig Review – Blue Öyster Cult @ Stone Free Festival 2017

Blue Öyster Cult at the Indigo O2, London 17 June 2017. Stone Free Festival 2017.

Last seen by me at 1981’s Monsters of Rock festival, Blue Öyster Cult where surprisingly good for the most part.  There were some stunning guitar solos throughout the set especially from Buck Dharma (loved the guitar man) and Richie Castellano (he looks like he’s been seconded in from Los Lobos!).  Bloody hell can Buck play the guitar or what!!  In fact, they are all well talented musicians who played a tight set of rarities and classics superbly well.  What’s more to say – it was damn good.

Their backdrop proudly proclaimed “On Tour Forever” and as I found out later they played their 1972 debut album in its entirety – “Just for the UK!” Eric Bloom proclaimed. This is only the 2nd time its ever happened and it was performed with minimal fuss – they just got on with it as if it was 45 years ago much to the delight of many fans sporting their BOC t-shirts with pride.

They finished with ‘(Don’t Fear) the Reaper’ which was dedicated to Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and came back for two encores’ – ‘Tattoo Vampire and Hot Rails to Hell’ and went off to rapturous applause and no doubt some partying afterwards. I think they converted many a member of the audience who will be searching out their back catalogue.

Blue Öyster Cult Set list

  • Transmaniacon MC (Blue Öyster Cult 1972)
  • I’m on the Lamb but I Ain’t No Sheep (Blue Öyster Cult 1972)
  • Then Came the Last Days of May (Blue Öyster Cult 1972) – 10 min version!
  • Stairway to the Stars (Blue Öyster Cult 1972)
  • Before the Kiss, a Redcap (Blue Öyster Cult 1972)
  • Screams (Blue Öyster Cult 1972)
  • She’s as Beautiful as a Foot (Blue Öyster Cult 1972)
  • Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll (Blue Öyster Cult 1972)
  • Workshop of the Telescopes (Blue Öyster Cult 1972)
  • Redeemed (Blue Öyster Cult 1972)
  • Burnin’ for You (Fire of Unknown Origin 1981)
  • Buck’s Boogie (On Your Feet or on Your Knees 1975)
  • Godzilla (Spectres 1977)
  • (Don’t Fear) The Reaper (Agents of Fortune 1976) click to view video
  • Tattoo Vampire (Agents of Fortune 1976)
  • Hot Rails to Hell (Tyranny and Mutation 1973)

Marko 20 June 2017

Gig Review – Gun @ Stone Free Festival 2017

Gun (Gig Review) – Stone Free Festival 17 June 2017 London Indigo O2

Next for me the Scottish Rockers Gun, who I have not seen since 1994.  I defiantly lost track of them over the years and was kind of glad they are attempting a comeback with a new line-up.

They went down pretty well with the crowd but poor old Dante Gizzi had a hard’ish time trying to get the crowd enthused with the usual singalong’s.  For me ‘Word Up’ was the highlight and I was rather impressed with the new single (Planet Rock playlist no less)  ‘Favourite Pleasures’.  ‘Better Days and Steal Your Fire’ also were performed well and you can never go wrong with covering the Beastie Boys ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)’.  All in all a very good short set.

Gun Set List

  • She Knows – (Favourite Pleasures 2017)
  • Don’t Say It’s Over – (Swagger 1994)
  • Better Days – (Taking on the World 1989)
  • Word Up! (Cameo cover) – (Swagger 1994) click to view video
  • Hold Your Head Up – (Frantic 2015)
  • Favourite Pleasures – (Favourite Pleasures 2017)
  • Steal Your Fire – (Gallus 1992)
  • Shame on You – (Taking on the World 1989)
  • (You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)Beastie Boys cover

Based on the new songs we heard, Gun are getting close to being at their best i.e. their 1st two albums.  The new lead guitarist Tommy Gentry knows his chords and his on-stage energy seems to have given Gun a shot in the arm.  Well done and keep it up boys!

Marko 20 June 2016

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – Gig Review Stone Free Festival 2017

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – London Indigo O2 17 June 2017 Gig Review

Just around the corner in the Indigo was the surprise of the day for me – The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.  Like most people I only know him for the famous ‘Fire’ single/video so I really didn’t know what to expect.  As it was I was captivated by the music, the band imagery (and his numerous costume changes) and the exuberance of an old man and his showmanship.  I checked the set list (off the net):

  • Prelude / Nightmare (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – 1968)
  • Devil’s Grip (1967 single)
  • I Put a Spell on You (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – 1968)
  • Time Captives (Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come – Journey 1976)
  • Sunrise (Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come – Galactic Zoo Dossier 1973)
  • Touched by All (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – Zim Zam Zim 2014)
  • Fire (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – 1968) click to view the video..

Arthur had plenty of weird dance routines (accompanied by his dancer Angel Flame) and a voice that really was from the god of hell fire.  Painted faces, bizarre costumes, good musicians and Arthur Indian dancing in circles wearing a cloak (with LED strips) of feathers that glowed all the colours of the rainbow.  I enjoyed all the songs, the performance and the artistry immensely.  Arthur Brown Stone Free 2017

Sadly, the last song ‘Fire’ was cut short due to running overtime but it did give him time to let us know that he is 75 in a few days so we ought to go and see him again before he drops dead on stage!  Mighty impressive stuff, if you want to see something different, be entertained and enjoy some really good tunes go and see him before it’s too late – he can’t be replaced!

Marko 20 June 2017

Tequila Mockingbyrd

Tequila Mockingbyrd

First up for me on the ‘Big Entrance Stage’ were the female power trio (further investigation tells me they are from Melbourne, Australia).  I was originally passing by when I heard their sound check and thought “what the hell” let’s see what they’ve got to offer.   10 mins later Estelle (vocals, guitar), Jess (bass) and Josie (drums) strode off into an 8 song set comprising songs mostly of their debut album ‘Fight And Flight’ and I was pleasantly surprised.  Check out the video for Never Go Home:

  • Money Tree
  • Never Go Home
  • Tell Me
  • This Ain’t Dead
  • Somebody Put Something in my Drink
  • Good Time
  • So Not Me
  • I Smell Rock ‘n’ Roll

Tequila MockingbyrdThe songs are short catchy simple tunes with lots of riffs to get the crowd going.  Think Ramones cross fertilised with a multitude of Oz hard rock bands.  They certainly have a no nonsense attitude – especially the drummer.

They spent time after the gig meeting potential new fans, posing for pictures and selling all sorts of stuff out of a suitcase – all legit of course!  Not many all women bands make it in this industry so good luck girls!  As AC/DC succinctly put it – It’s a long way to the top if you wanna Rock n Roll.

Marko 20 June 2017

Stone Free Festival 2017 – Gig Reviews

Just in case you don’t know the Stone Free festival at the O2 in London covers the main arena, the Indigo and a ‘Big Entrance Stage’ (misnomer) just as you come in the front doors.  The event started at midday on the hottest day of the year thus far.  So military precision was required to ensure that in the 30 minute interval between bands I could sneak out for a well deserved ‘cold one’ and sit down to rest my weary body.  I even managed some food just before Sweet came on.

With so many acts in close succession (see the poster for timings) it was going to be a long long day.

Stone Free Festival 2017
Stone Free Festival 2017

After much deliberation I thought I’d post lots of smaller reviews rather than just one huge missive that would challenge your attention span!  Just click on the links to view the reviews in the order I saw them:

Overall, a long tiring but mostly enjoyable day.  Well worth the £65 fee (actually my mate gave me a free ticket, so I did the decent thing and bought the food/drinks) for an all day event.

Marko 20 June 2017