at The Cluny, Newcastle, U.K., April 25, 2011

Making his third visit to the UK in as many years, Waite opted to play in a more intimate setting this time around, enabling his fans to get up close and personal rather than stuck at the back of some bland enormodome somewhere on the edge of town, and The Cluny is the perfect venue for this type of show.

John WaiteJohn Waite has a fine pedigree both as a solo artist and as a member of two successful bands going back over three decades, and the set featured a selection from The Babys, where he first made his name, and Bad English, the supergroup he put together with Neal Schon and Jonathan Caine from Journey, as well as a fair few from his solo repertoire, including the highlights from his latest album, Rough And Tumble, released just a few months ago.

As Waite hit the stage, backed by a fired-up band, including the bequiffed Kyle Cook, lead guitarist from Matchbox 20, all was not well. Waite’s microphone stuttered and crackled, cutting out at inopportune moments during the opener “Change”. Waite remained unphased as he stepped across to swipe Cook’s microphone. A couple of replacements fared no better as “Back On My Feet Again” had to be restarted. Many an artist would have thrown a hissy fit at this point, but Waite, showing his true professionalism, shrugged his shoulders and joked with the crowd as tour manager Manfred sorted through the problem.

From this point onwards, Waite and his band stepped up a gear or two delivering a tight, hard-rocking set with a couple of classy ballads from right across his career. Material from his excellent new album Rough And Tumble was featured prominently, with the album highlight “Evil” coming across darker and harder than on record, and with Kyle Cook’s glorious Ace Frehley-like solo shining brightly. Cook was an excellent foil for Waite throughout the night, and it’s easy to see why Waite was eager to work with him.

John waite“Mr Wonderful”, “Rough And Tumble”, and Tina Turner’s “Sweet Rhode Island Red” rocked hard, while “If You Ever Get Lonely” and “Love’s Goin’ Out of Style”, performed here for the first time ever, showed the lighter side of Waite’s repertoire.

Waite has the knack of painting a vivid picture with his lyrics, and “Downtown” and the stunning “Suicide Life”, a story of an oddball guy he used to see on the streets of LA, are prime examples and show he possesses a real gift as a songwriter.

Not many artists can stake a claim to two No.1 hit singles as both a solo artist and with a band, but with “Missing You”, a hit for Waite in 1984, and “When I See You Smile”, a smash for Bad English, he has achieved just that. Such was the class of Waite’s back catalog… he was able to drop the Bad English hit from his set without any drop in quality.

John waiteThe Babys “Every Time I Think of You” and romping “Head First”, along with the Bad English classic “Best Of What I’ve Got” were all welcomed like long lost friends, and so great to hear in a live show performed by the voice who created them.

Waite is blessed with a fine voice. He sounds like no one else, which in this day and age is a rare treat. Waite has retained that golden tone that he first unleashed on the charts almost 30 years ago, and in this live setting, his voice was absolutely immaculate. Best of all, Waite looked like he was loving every minute of being up on the stage and bantered playfully with the crowd throughout the show. It’s not often that you get the chance to see such a performer in a small hall like The Cluny, but those lucky enough to have got a ticket certainly went home more than satisfied after an excellent show by Waite and his band.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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