Gig Review: GRAHAM BONNET/CHROME MOLLY, The Garage, Highbury, London, 19 March 2014

After a chequered career, veteran singer Graham Bonnet has decided to play on his past as Rainbow’s singer in  a brief, albeit commercially successful period. He was back, in front of an unexpectedly large crowd playing a wholly Rainbow set under the  banner of Catch The Rainbow.

Support came from Chrome Molly  who delivered a half hour set and seem to be enjoying their second shot at the big time.  Now greying and balding, their endearing enthusiasm is undimmed while Steve Hawkins remains an engaging frontman despite a worrying facial resemblance to Graham Norton.

Their comeback album Gunpowder Diplomacy formed  the lion’s share of the set,  more metallic than their original material but also unafraid to tackle different lyrical themes with ‘Million Dollar Heart Attack’ and ‘Corporation Fear’ both attacking the banking industry.

Chrome Molly

However they also dug from the vaults the cover they used to do of Gary Moore’s ‘Nuclear Attack’, guitarist John Antcliffe making a respectable stab at a classic track that is too easily overlooked these days while the song they wrote with Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, ‘Shooting Me Down’, had some bang on the money ‘whoo-ooh’’ gang vocals.

Chrome Molly

Graham Bonnet has a reputation as an erratic, eccentric performer but as he came on stage in trademark shades, looking rake thin, there seemed little wrong with his strong voice during the epic ‘Eyes Of The World’ and ‘Love’s No Friend’ – the latter making me realise quite how much Richie Blackmore reprised Mistreated.

Graham Bonnet

Surprisingly early in the set a punchy ‘Since You Been Gone’ had people singing along and it was good to hear relative obscurities from his Rainbow days get an airing such as ‘Making Love’ and the old B side ‘Bad Girl’ which was particularly enjoyable.

Inevitably the 66 year old could not keep the pace going and disappeared for long periods. After the keyboard player teased with snatched of classic intros -I spotted  Temple of the King, Tarot Woman , Mr Crowley and Perfect Strangers –  they played a lively instrumental of ‘Kill The King’ without him. The band were never introduced  but it is fair to assume they moonlight as a Rainbow tribute band, so natural did their interplay feel.

Graham Bonnet

When he returned he did appear to be winging ‘Catch the Rainbow’, but all was forgiven as the  band gave an epic performance  with the guitarist going off on extended improvised solos worthy of the Man in Black. Back in more familiar territory for him, ‘Lost In Hollywood’ was an enjoyable romp and the years were rolled back even more for those of a certain vintage with ‘All Night Long’, complete  with audience participation.

Graham Bonnet

However, unexpectedly,  that was it and after a single encore of ‘Long Live Rock n Roll’ when Graham again appeared to be squinting at lyric sheets taped to the stage, the show was over. At an hour and ten minutes, well short of the hour and a half a respected rock writer refers to as the ‘industry standard’, the paying punters had a right to feel short changed.

With an impressive band and Graham’s voice holding up generally well, at times this show was brilliant and yet the singer appeared completely unrehearsed. I hope he will have raised his game by the time he returns for an autumn tour.

Review and photos by Andy Nathan

Interview (March 2014)

 


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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)

Power Plays w/c 28 October (Mon-Fri)

COLLATERAL Mr Big Shot (Roulette Media Records)
BABY HUSBAND Stop Thinking About Tomorrow (indie)
OF ALLIES Off The Map (indie)
EXPLORING BIRDSONG The River (indie)
MARISA AND THE MOTHS – Slave (indie)
CATTLE AND CANE I Wish I Knew Jesus (Like I Do)
KING VOODOO Creep (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 28 October (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Big Blue World (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 REDLINE Gods & Monsters (Escape Music)
14:00-16:00 WILDWOOD KIN (Silvertone/Sony)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)



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