When first informed about Norwegian band TNT’s upcoming 30th anniversary tour of ‘Tell No Tales’ featuring the return of the U.S. born Tony Harnell on vocals following his brief stint in Skid Row, I realised the only way I would get to see them would be to jump on the first plane to their homeland where their popularity remains strong to this day.
Add in the fact that over the last 20 years Tony had been consistently in and out of TNT, his latest return has done little to assure me that it might not be TNT’s last tour. As they were one of the 80′s finest hard rock bands I had yet to see live, I was left with no choice but to head for Drammen, a small town south of Oslo, on a cold dark Saturday night.
Drammen’s main musical venue is the Union Scene. With its massive wooden posts and beams it has all the aspects of a cosy barn or a quaint English pub. With the tightest balcony surrounding a stage you have ever seen, the gig was set to be an intimate affair for another sell out show.
If you have been following Tony Harnell on social media you will have been made fully aware of the qualities of support act Rachel Lorin, but a man in love might not always be impartial. As I knew little about Rachel Lorin or her band other than having watched a few acoustic songs on a well-known video uploading site, I was in for a pleasant surprise.
The lady is attractive, extremely attractive, but she also has great stage presence and you can’t help but sit up and take notice. Her dress sense would have made the background vocal girls from the Motley Crue ’89 tour proud. Strutting back and forth, Rachel used the central walkway to demonstrate all she has to offer and oh boy, that girl can belt out a rock song. With a limited catalogue of rock songs, Rachel’s set comprised of a mix of originals and covers.
The covers of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ and Whitesnake’s ‘Still Of The Night’ not only helped connect with the crowd through familiar tunes but demonstrated that we were in the presence of an extremely gifted singer.
The set ended with the notable ‘I Hate You’ where vocal duties were shared with lead guitarist and the hit ‘It’s In Me’. With powerful vocals and a hypnotising charisma, Rachel Lorin has all the ingredients to be the next rock goddess.
While waiting for TNT, who were due to get on stage for 10.00, I couldn’t help but wonder if the 4 octaves top vocalist of the 80′s would be able to deliver the tunes of an album recorded 30 years ago. Arriving slightly late on stage, the skinny frame of Guitarist Ronni Le Tekro appeared in front of an enthusiastic Norwegian crowd.
Dressed all in white from head to toe except for his favoured signature bandana, we were in the divine presence of a guitar god. Shortly behind him, Tony Harnell, slowly pacing, took centre stage sporting a much cropped mane these days along with shades and a black outfit.
The stage set was mostly bare apart from an oversized drum riser. As Ove Husemoen (bass) and Roger Gilton (keyboards) were squeezed to the left of the stage and drummer Diesel Dahl is hidden behind a white, double bass, blue neon lit kit (that was a mouth full), it became quickly apparent that the focus of the show would be on the duo in a visual and sonic ying and yang.
While most bands go for an in your face, fast tempo tune, TNT opened their set relatively slowly with the crescendo of “Give Me A Sign“. The band then jumped straight into the next tune, as they alternated between three songs from ‘My Religion’ and three from ‘Tell No Tales’.
A brief introduction to ‘Child Play’ confirmed that Tony might not be totally confident with his vocal abilities as he informed the crowd that he had the flu and we know what that usually means. As the verses flowed, he sounded slightly shaky at times. I cannot help but feel that my concerns may be have been correct.
Tony then told us a little anecdote dating back to the time Zakk Wylde joined Ozzy and of his admiration for Ronnie’s guitar skills. At this point Ronni wasted no time in demonstrating his shredding technique with a guitar solo section which couldn’t have come at a better time, giving Tony a much needed respite.
The set then continued with a trip into ‘Intuition’ album territory with ‘Forever Shine On’, before Tony ground to a halt on the intro to ‘Northern Lights’ in order to declare his love by proposing to his fiancée on their 4th anniversary. From this point on Tony showed none of the earlier vocal issues as if the solo break did wonders, and went from strength to strength with ‘Tonight I’m falling’ and the catchy riff of ‘Intuition’.
An acoustic version of ‘Lionheart’ and ‘Downhill Racer’ from the ‘Realised Fantasies’ album followed before the classic ‘Seven Seas’, where Tony got the whole venue singing with fitting lyrics about Vikings. Finally, the set ended on a high note with a return to the ‘Tell No Tales’ album with ‘Listen To Your Heart’, ’10000 lovers’ and ‘Everyone’s A Star’.
This gig confirmed that Tony still remains one of the greatest rock vocalists. Unlike many bands who decide these days to celebrate an album anniversary by playing the entirety of the album from beginning to end, TNT chose to alternate most of ‘Tell No Tales’ with the fan’s favourites. They demonstrated that the pair of composers have a seriously good back catalogue of tunes which have aged well and that they still have as much to offer today as songwriters as they did 30 years ago.
With a new album in the pipeline due to be released this year, I can only hope a UK tour will be planned.
Review and Photos by Johann Wierzbicki
Give Me A Sign (My Religion), As Far As The Eye Can See (TNT), She Needs Me (My Religion), Desperate Nights (TNT), Invisible Noise (My Religion), Child’s Play (TNT), Guitar solo, Forever Shine On (Intuition), Northern Lights (TNT), Tonight I’m Falling (Intuition), Intuition (Intuition),
Acoustic – Lionheart. (Realised Fantasies), Downhill Racer (realised Fantasies)
Seven Seas (knights of the new thunder), Listen To Your Heart (TNT), 10000 Lovers (TNT), Everyone’s Star (TNT)
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