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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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In this two hour special David Randall plays a selection of the GRTR! reviewer choices for ‘Best of 2019′ and announces the results of the popular poll. First broadcast Sunday 22 December 2019.
Featured Albums w/c 20 January (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 AUTUMN’S CHILD Autumn’s Child (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 THE RAGGED SAINTS Sonic Playground Revisited (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 AMBERLY CHALBERG Hi-Line (indie)
Power Plays w/c 20 January (Mon-Fri)
THUNDERSTICK Go Sleep With The Enemy (Roulette Records)
BUFFALO SUMMER Everybody’s Out For No.1 (Silver Lining Music)
ANCHOR LANE Dead Run (R7 Records)
MOLLY KARLOFF She Said (indie)
H.E.A.T. Come Clean (Frontiers)
THE KENDALL COLLECTION Staring Back At Me (indie)
VOODOO RAMBLE Midnight Train (indie)
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