In this exclusive edit Graham tells Get Ready to ROCK!’s David Randall about his current activities and band. (15:02) The hour special is broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sunday 27 August at 18:00 GMT. The full version is available here
The secret of survival as a rock septuagenarian is to get a damn good band around you. Visually and musically Graham Bonnet’s band breathed life into some classy rock tunes and responded in kind to their leader’s sense of fun.
This was the last date on a short UK tour which had included a couple of festival appearances. Given that the venue’s band the previous night had cancelled (King King), due to Alan Nimmo’s voice issues, you could be forgiven for thinking that the same might happen to Bonnet. Delving back into the GRTR! archive reveals that he does occasionally burn himself out vocally.
None of this was evident tonight. In a one and a half hour set, Bonnet gave us his all and also a nice summary of a glorious career fronting some of the very best rock guitarists.
He was aided tonight by newcomer Joey Tafolla who excelled whether apeing Schenker on several pieces, Yngwie, Vai, or Blackmore. Jimmy Waldo (keys) bolsters the Alcatrazz lineage and it was perhaps a shame that they didn’t revisit a track or two from the Blackthorne period. Beth-Ami Heavenstone on bass and backing vocals provides a rather elegant and attractive counterpoint, whilst drummer Mark Benquechea keeps everyone in check at the back.
This storm of a gig was bookended by the delights of a double Rainbow but in between we got glimpses of Alcatrazz and his solo work. If the more recent material such as ‘California Air’ didn’t quite match the anthemic standards of old it does show that Bonnet is still making new music and hasn’t rested on former glories. From the start, it was all high energy and a pace maintained until the finish.
The turning point of the gig was the wonderful ‘Desert Song’ which highlighted Tafolla’s bluesy guitar figures but ‘Stand In Line’ (Impellitteri) was also impressive. Rallying with another Schenker classic ‘Assault Attack’, two Rainbow classics – ‘Eyes Of The World’ and ‘Lost In Hollywood’ – were left for the encore.
You can’t beat the old troopers. Bonnet doesn’t take himself too seriously but his vocal delivery and band is spot on. An engaging and thoroughly entertaining legend, let’s hope he returns to these shores soon.
Setlist: All Night Long/ Night Games/ God Blessed Video/S.O.S. /Desert Song/ Jet To Jet/ Stand In Line /Island In The Sun/ California Air /Samurai /Skyfire /Since You Been Gone /Assault Attack/ Encore: Eyes Of The World/Lost in Hollywood/Hiroshima Mon Amour
Review and photos by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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