Live at the Royal Albert Hall (2DVD) www.thesunflowerjam.com
The Sunflower Jam was started back in 2006 by Jacky Paice, wife of Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice and sister-in-law to the late Jon Lord, as a charity event to raise funds for holistic and non-toxic treatments for cancer and other diseases. They always get a star studded line-up and the 2012 show was no exception, one that was tinged with sadness as it followed the death of Jon Lord.
Up and coming UK rockers The Temperance Movement opened the show with their cracking Free inspired blues/hard rock. The band also pop up throughout the show as backing musicians. Highlights? Where to start! Classical tenor Alfie Boe is a rock star trapped with a classical vocal! He belts through Led Zeppelin’s ’Rock ‘N’ Roll’ and then goes all power ballad on Foreigner’s ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’.
Steve Balsamo performs a moving ‘Pictured Within’ (which he performed in 2011 with Jon Lord and is on the second disc), a wonderfully moving song and suited to his vocals. Bruce Dickinson doing Thin Lizzy’s ’Emerald’ I am still not sold on as his air raid scream kicks in a little too much. Micky Moody and Uli Jon Roth nail the guitar solos with ease.
Brian May and Kerry Ellis do a sterling version of Rainbow’s ’Since You’ve Been Gone’ and Alice Cooper does ‘Elected’ and ‘School’s Out’, with a backing band including Micky Moody, Brian May and many more. ‘Smoke On The Water’ closes the show and is a real superjam with all the musicians back on stage.
The second disc has more from the 2012 show including Sandi Thom singing her own song ‘Help Me’ and a more restrained, soulful take on Guns ‘N’ Roses ‘November Rain’. She has a great voice and one of the better singers on the night. Brian May and Kerry Ellis do ‘Born Free’, yes that song from the classic film of the same name. It could have ended up cheesy, however it works really well.
The second disc has highlights from the 2011 show including Thunder’s Danny Bowes great take on Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born To Run’. That man Joe Bonamassa who never seems to be off a stage or recording studio, paid tribute to the late Gary Moore on ‘Midnight Blues’ with Gary Moore’s son Jack joining him on guitar. Kudos to Newton Faulkner (he looks like he has ginger Hydra on his head) for doing the whole of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ on only acoustic guitar. Very entertaining!
Rick Wakeman and Jon Lord team-up for a keyboards feast on ‘It’s Not As Big As It Was’ and Rick Wakeman backs Newton Faulkner on David Bowie’s ’Life On Mars’, a song he played on originally. Highlight though is Bill Bailey starting off ‘Smoke On The Water’ on the cowbells with Deep Purple looking on in both amusement and bemusement.
The Sunflower Superjam works well as the artists perform in the main rock classics and you have no onstage egos, just lots of musician with big smiles on their faces enjoying the night. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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