At Trillians, Newcastle, U.K., August 12, 2018

GRAHAM BONNET BAND (Live at Trillians, Newcastle, U.K., August 12, 2018)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Who would have thought that a “one-off” hit single in 1968, written by the Bee Gees would have kick started a career in music lasting half a century?

During a fruitless search for a singer to replace Ronnie James Dio in Rainbow in 1979, Ritchie Blackmore recalled an old hit, Only One Woman, by a band called Marbles and set about tracking down that elusive voice. Graham Bonnet was finally found and was the man to bring a new, more streamline commercial sound to Rainbow and although he lasted only one album it yielded two huge hit singles and cemented Bonnet’s reputation as a top-class Rock vocalist.

A short stint with Michael Schenker Group followed before forming his own band Alcatrazz in 1983, a band that shot guitarists Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai into the Rock spotlight, showed that Rainbow was no flash in the pan.

Bonnet is back with his solo band, featuring his ex-Alcatrazz bandmate Jimmy Waldo on keyboards with a new album, Meanwhile Back In The Garage, that is arguably his best since his Alcatrazz days so it was with great anticipation that Bonnet was welcomed to a packed Trillians.

An hour and a half is simply not enough time to cover every song that people want to hear but Bonnet certainly did a canny job of covering all the bases. Whereas previous tours tended to have a heavier slant towards his Rainbow days, this tour saw more of Alcatrazz and new material than ever before but still retaining those must hear songs.

Kicking off with a quick-fire jab of Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live from the Alcatrazz debut; Rainbow’s classic All Night Long and his own solo hit Night Games got the pot bubbling nicely with Bonnet’s trade mark powerhouse, gravel edged voice as potent and dynamic as ever, particularly impressive for a man of 70 years of age. Time certainly has not diminished his edge.

With Alcatrazz deep cuts Starcarr Lane, Jet To Jet and lead song, Island In The Sun all making an appearance from their debut release nestling next to new material Livin’ In Suspicion and Long Island Tea which features an absolute killer chorus, Bonnet sounded fresh and reinvigorated.

Desert Song from Michael Schenker Group’s Assault Attack was suitably epic and Rock You To The Ground’s slow Blues grind, from the same album, was a reminder of a productive but fleeting collaboration with Schenker.

Bonnet has aligned himself with some of the best guitarists in Rock from Ritchie Blackmore to Michael Schenker and Yngwie Malmsteen to Steve Vai and Bob Kulick amongst others and in Kurt James he has uncovered another gem. James was outstanding, handling the differing styles with ease and adding a touch of flair and flamboyance for good measure.

Of course, it goes without saying that closing the set with Rainbow’s uber hit Since You Been Gone and gold-plated classic Lost in Hollywood was never going to be anything other than a triumphant close to a killer evening of Hard Rock at its very best.

Review and Photos By Mick Burgess


  • 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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