Reviewer: Matt Forrest.
Remember back in the day when we used to buy CDs, that’s right a little silver disc we placed in our Hi-Fi, and music came out. This was long before downloading, streaming, and way before buying vinyl was back in vogue. When the CD was king, we were inundated with adverts for compilations albums such The Best Rock Album in the World Ever or The Ultimate Driving Album. They were always good value for money and contained some absolute belters: granted you got odd the duffer but overall, they were always worth a listen. Well imagine one of them compilation albums only with a pulse, and that’s The Classic Rock Show, only with no filler.
Opening with Led Zeppelin’s seminal Whole Lotta Love, the band certainly set the bar pretty high right from the get-go. The 10-piece outfit race through tracks by such artist Steely Dan, Patti Smith, and Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Lead vocals are split between several singers that include, Johnny West, Emily Jollands, Ricardo Afonso and Alex Dee, with each band member given their moment to shine. The first half flies by at break-neck speed culminating with a full-throttle rendition of The Beatles Helter Skelter, and an on-point cover of David Bowie’s Moonage Daydream.
Following the interval, the second half kicks off with Money for Nothing by Dire Straits. The hits come thick and fast with Afonso doing a solid job on Hotel California. Jollands on lead vocals for the most mellow track of the evening, a heartfelt cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide. As the evening progresses there are more and more empty seats in the Lowry as more and more punters get off their seats and up dancing. When singer Johnny West launched into an epic rendition of Bat Out of Hellnearly all the seats, we’re vacant as people we’re upon their feet.
What’s great about a show of this nature you know exactly what you’re getting from the outset: high-quality musicians at the top of their game performing songs that you’ll know and love. If you’re not a fan of Deep Purple, that’s alright because here’s something by Jimi Hendrix. The tricky part about staging a show like this is, these songs are so well known and beloved by the audience that the slightest error or deviation will be jumped and scrutinised but there are no such issues here, for this a group of uber-talented musicians who clearly love this genre of music and have the skills to back it up.
It feels a tad unfair to single out one specific band member, but guitarist Howie G absolutely nails it throughout the night: his playing on the Gary Moore classic Parisienne Walkways is jaw-dropping, whilst the entire bands work on Van Halen’s Jump is a sound and sight to behold.
I’ve been fortunate to see some of the artist covered in tonight’s performance and missed others, but The Classic Rock Show really is a great opportunity to see some great songs performed to an exceptionally high standard. For fans of classic rock music or those looking to educate others (there we’re a few youngsters in the crowd) this is the perfect show, you really can’t go wrong with a setlist that includes Let’s Dance, Highway to Hell, and All Along the Watchtower, can you? My only gripe is that there was no Spinal Tap, any chance of Stonehenge next time?
Reviewed 27 January 2019 | Image: Contributed