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Saturday, 25 April 2015


I must admit, before this gig, my knowledge of Russian rock was limited, bar Gorky Park, who back in the late 80's were doing their best Bon Jovi impersonation. But thankfully Reds Cool, a five piece from St Petersburg, eased my ignorance with an hugely impressive performance. Taking to the stage, the band led by vocalist Slava Spark, looked a tad daunted by the lack of bodies in the venue. But as the masses gathered the band's mojo grew. Rattling out some hard edged melodic rock tunes like Love & Pain and Bad Story, what looked a formidable task at the beginning ended in glorious triumph.
When Phil Mogg eventually decides to end his UFO days, he should seriously consider joining the after dinner speaking circuit. His laid back, wonderfully humorous interaction with the Dublin crowd was a pleasure to witness, especially his tale about not being invited back to Geddy Lee's house, and then recognising a fan he'd seen in a bar earlier that day.
But this crowd didn't come to hear Mr Mogg shoot the breeze, all they wanted was to revel in a band that has produced some of the most memorable rock songs in music history. A robust, We Belong To The Night followed by Fight Night kicks things off in true UFO style.
Touring in support of new album, A Conspiracy Of Stars, their 22nd studio album, only two songs were performed, Run Boy Run and album opener The Killing Kind. Not that it disappointed their public, this only left the path clear for the classics. The always brilliant Lights Out and a stirring Only You Can Rock Me had their faithful in raptures. Guitar god, Vinnie Moore performed as you'd expect, majestic all night, especially on Burn Your House Down and Venus. Proving why this man is worshipped by guitar enthusiasts the world over. Sadly his paper aeroplane making isn't the same, as he tried to launch the set list sheet into the crowd but unfortunately nosedived straight into the photo pit.
But there can be no doubting the highlight of the night, Love To Love is now 38 years young, although never mentioned among the so called best rock ballads, it's enduring power and emotion still remains beautifully undiminished. Mogg's heartfelt vocal and Paul Raymond's soothing keyboards still grab you tight. The attentive Dublin crowd were thoroughly transfixed, even the hardest of rockers had their heartstrings tugged with no resistance. Rock Bottom once again showcased Vinnie Moore's incomparable genius, and giving the well lubricated Mogg a brief sit down.
First encore, Doctor Doctor, without doubt the bands live security blanket still retains it's live zest. Drummer, Andy Parker and bassist Rob DeLuca provide the steely rhythm that gets the place in a state of full on delirium. Hordes of ageing rockers shamelessly slung on their precious air guitars to mimic Moore and Raymond's relentless riffing. And slung they stayed for the ballsy closer Shoot Shoot, a smug and contented looking Mogg delivering yet another unblemished performance to finish off a truly memorable night of classic rock.
The only real flaw was that it wasn't long enough, but don't forget longest serving members, Messrs Mogg, Raymond and Parker have a combined age of 200. So lets just be thankful that we still have the opportunity to witness these legends, and god willing for a little longer.

Sunday, 12 April 2015


When I discovered that Joe Lynn Turner was including Belfast, and not my native Dublin, on his acoustic tour, I must admit feeling an overwhelming urge to kick something, or someone.  Nevertheless there was never a doubt about me hopping on the train and heading north to witness the former frontman of Fandango, Deep Purple and of course Rainbow.  And obviously this was a man without any airs and graces, because folks this place was a dump.  So much so that I wiped my feet, twice, when leaving.  But this gig was not about interiors, this was a personal and intimate show with a legendary singer hellbent on bonding with his long serving fans.
At 9.30 the great man took to the stage, and after a quick tune up he launched into a thrilling version of Rainbows' Stone Cold followed by a brilliantly recieved Street Of Dreams.  Devil horns were raised when Joe Lynn paid tribute to former Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio with a moving version of Catch The Rainbow, a memorable moment in the evening.

It wasn't just Purple and Rainbow classics that received the bare bones treatment, Turner belted out Beatles classics Blackbird and aslo a jazzy version of Van Morrison's Moondance to a decent reception.  But you could sense this crowd wanted their own classics, the stuff this man regularly performs majestically.  And they got their wish as the Purple classic Hush followed by an unrecognisable, but brilliant, version of Smoke On The Water brought the house down.
But the biggest surprise of the evening was the absence of I Surrender from the set, one of the most recognisable songs in rock history and the one most synonymous with Turner.  Which would of being a perfect way to close out a fantastic evening.  Instead we got a robust rendition of ZZ Top's Tush which had many a plastic pint glass rattling.  A clearly happy and contented Turner exited the stage to a fantastic reception from the real fans, who hung on his every word throughout the night.  Unfortunetly I couldn't say that for 70% of the Belfast audience.
In between songs, Turner was sharing intimate stories about his time with Rainbow and Deep Purple, and also about a possible reunion with Ritchie Blackmore.  But the majority of this crowd were just plain pig ignorant who choose to ignore him, and instead gave their fog horn gobs an unwelcome workout.  I got talking to a couple from Manchester who travelled over especially to witness their hero up close and personal, but were left disgusted by the obnoxious behaviour.  Those who cared behaved impeccably and saw a true rock great showing his undying talents in it's barest form.  Next time Joe head south, you will have our full attention.