One of melodic rock’s great voices, Terry Brock is best known for lifting Strangeways’ ‘Native Sons’ and ‘Walk In The Fire’ albums to classic status. There is however much more to the Georgia native’s career, whether as an in-demand backing singer or voiceover artist,or with a number of solo or band releases, many of which were showcased this evening.
However a happy by-product of his Strangeways association is that he retains a great affection for the UK, with the result that he embarked on his second UK acoustic tour in two and a half years.
Unfortunately the London show, in the basement of one of London’s most historic rock pubs, was to say the least poorly attended. The silver lining was that this made it far easier, especially in a small venue, to build an almost conversational rapport between performer and audience, making the latter more of a part of the show.
After a fashion It was another southerner, Brighton’s Steve Newman, who opened a perfectly weighted double bill, together with Newman bandmate Shaun Bessant. They play relatively few live shows, and even fewer in this stripped back format, so he joked there would be a certain amount of making it up as they went along, and those present were more than happy to strike out the rhythms to keep songs moving forward when there was any hesitation.
The acoustic format may have been rare but was arguably a better showcase for successfully bringing out Steve’s songwriting skills and the richness of his voice, which Shaun’s slightly higher tones complemented nicely in places. There was also plenty of banter and tomfoolery between the two.
The set choice, other than a cover of ‘Mony Mony’ did though reflect an electric Newman set to a large degree. The likes of opener ‘Pray For The Day’ and ‘Every Moment’, drawn from their earlier career, nestled alongside later efforts, including ‘Feel Her Again’ with a massive vocal hook, ‘Stay With Me’ and ‘Coming Home Tonight’. ‘If Its Love’ was a reminder that Newman have been making quality music for over 20 years while ‘One Step Closer’ featured a jovial singalong as is customary with Newman shows.
After a short changeover, Terry Brock took the stage, accompanied by wife Anna Portaluppi on bass, who AOR anoraks like me recognised from stints playing with Hardline and Mitch Malloy amongst others. He opened with a couple of solo numbers in ‘Face In The Crowd’ and ‘Another Chance’.
But most impressive was to be reminded quite how many different projects he has graced. Until he introduced ‘Wine’ I had forgotten about early 2000’s supergroup The Sign which effectively revitalised his career, and moving closer to the present day it was great to hear two songs from 2016’s Roth/Brock Project in an impassioned ‘My City’ and anthemic ‘Young Again’.
I am sure a straw poll would have had Strangeways numbers at the top of the list and he obliged with two of their very best back to back, ‘Love Lies Dying’ with Steve Newman helping out and the emotional, should have been hit ‘Only a Fool’.
There were fewer covers than I had remembered from his last London show at the Underworld but mid set they were joined by an extra guitarist Matt Backer, who has played with Elton John among others, for some blues and soul standards- ‘The Thrill Has Gone’, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ and ‘Lean On Me’.
In keeping with the surroundings it was a laid back performance in which his honeyed southern tones were not stretched to the outer limits that once had the legendary Derek Oliver reaching for Steve Perry comparisons, but was none the worse for it. One of Strangeways reunion songs ‘Borderlines’ had a country rock feel while he revealed the only other Strangeways song ‘After The Hurt is Gone’ was his all-time favourite, and another highlight was The Sign’s ballad ‘Forever Again’.
His anecdotes revealed that Terry has been no stranger to tragedy, being caught up both in the aftermath of 9/11 in New York and more recent hurricanes in his adopted Florida home, and he revealed that a dear friend he referred to as his brother had passed away days before, which lent added poignancy to the story behind the motorbike themed ‘What A Ride’ which closed an exemplary 80 minute set.
With a great voice allied to a southerner’s gentle charm, Terry delivered a wonderful evening with support from all the other performers. I only hope that, after promising to make this a regular occurrence, next time he is rewarded by a bigger attendance.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
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