The Classic Rock Show - The A-Z of Rock stopped off at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh tonight, and it was exactly what the advertising promised it would be…a run through of some of the most popular rock band songs over the years from AC/DC to Queen to Led Zeppelin and many more in a show lasting roughly 2 ½ hours.
This show follows on the success of its 2015 & 2016 ‘20 Greatest Guitar Riffs’ tours, and an international line up of musicians that included James Cole (guitar and musical director), Howie G (guitar and vocals), Wayne Banks (bass), Karl Penney (drums), Henry Burnett (keyboards/vocals), Emily Jollands (vocals/keyboards) and Rudy Cardenas and Johnny West sharing vocals where best suited to the songs gave this audience pretty much what they wanted.
James Cole has done a good job here as musical director putting together a set list that probably had to leave out far more than could ever be fitted into this show and there were some interesting arrangements here on many songs – George Harrison’s classic “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to name but one. I don’t know if the set list for a show is fixed, or changes for shows, but this was a pretty wide selection covering both the huge album selling and radio play bands of 1970s and 80s American Rock plus some classic British Rock Bands. Fitting into neither category of course, Australia’s AC/DC and their cover of the classic “Highway to Hell” got one of the loudest applauses of the show.
The selection of songs had to be one that an audience would most identify with, but there were some not so obvious selections such as Deep Purple and Highway Star (Killing Machine) from “Machine Head” instead of the much more obvious “Smoke on the Water”.
Opening their set with Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” may have seemed an obvious crowd pleaser, but for some reason it failed to ignite the audience that much, and it was a few songs into the first set before the audience and the band really seemed to relax and enjoy their music as the audience started to get behind them…a lot of that may have been down to the seated rather that standing layout of the venue tonight, but given the age of many of the audience, seated was probably a much appreciated and preferred option. Once the audience got behind the band though, they were there all the way until the last encore.
There are some genuine surprises in this set, and that is all I am saying in case you are reading this review and planning to go to one of their later shows. Much of the success of tonight must however go to Howie G whose mastery of many guitars and styles, and solid rock/blues vocals (where needed) plus the solid rhythm keeping of the very experienced Wayne Banks on bass guitar together gave this show much of the solid foundations it needed to be built on.
Splitting the main vocal duties up between Rudy Cardenas and Johnny West according to whose vocals best suited a song really worked here. It would be great though to see Rudy Cardenas out there fronting his own indie band sometime as I suspect that voice and stage presence are capable of much more than cover versions of classics…I think Rudy has his own musical path to travel in future years.
This show does not travel light, and there is a lot of equipment on stage here along with a serious lighting set-up. To keep everyone’s minds on the songs being played and maybe provide the odd visual reminder to people, tracks have the classic album which they come from projected on screen behind the band. Some tracks also have footage of the original band playing that track or the original MTV video playing, but I have to admit that I found that a bit distracting at times, and the band are more than good enough not to need those images playing behind them. When you go to see a tribute based band like this you have to be prepared to leave your personal images of the original bands behind a bit and accept the band that is on stage for what they are – talented musicians playing some of your (and often their) favourite music. The visuals of the original bands playing can distract you from the band that is on stage.
For more information on the show visit http://www.theclassicrockshow.com/
Review by Tom King