The Classic Rock Show returned to The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh tonight with its well -tried and tested simple formula of presenting on stage a “live juke-box” playing some of the classic rock music hits from over five decades of music. It is, as I say, a simple formula, but it is always done well, and to add to the mix, every year that I go to review this show, the music is a different set-list.
There are only two ways to present a show like this one, even with good musical talents – either you do it on the cheap and cut every corner possible to save some money and increase your profits, or you throw some obvious money at the production. The Classic Rock Show does the latter, and the investment in technical and musical equipment alone to put on this show is obvious from the very start, and this is not a production that is touring lightly to any venue.
The Classic Rock Show band is always a bit of a changing line up built around a core team and as always, guitarist and musical director James Cole is doing the multiple roles of playing, singing, and discretely orchestrating everything whilst at the same time probably producing large amounts of guitar envy in any guitarists in the audience with his constantly changing choice of instruments to create the authentic sound that he wants for a particular song. A recent addition to the band’s guitar line up has been the impressive talents of Pete Thorn, but I still missed Howie G being on stage tonight.
If there is a “back-bone” to classic rock music then it is the definitive rhythms of bass guitar and, as always, keeping that groove going all through a nearly 3 hour long show, were the always impressive skills of Wayne Banks.
This show always has more than one vocalist, and that is always a wise choice as the format of this show allows different vocal styles to match songs best suited to talent, and tonight those vocal talents were Jesse Smith (plus guitar), Rudy Cardenas and Jess Harwood (plus keyboard). Many people in the audience may have seen Jess Harwood perform with the very successful Rumours of Fleetwood Mac tribute band over the years too.
As always, selecting the set-list for this show must be a bit of a nightmare, if for no other reason than you have a very limited time on stage to play, and there are just so many classic songs out there to choose from. For every song you perform, you probably have to leave out many more that someone else wanted to hear. There are always some songs that people just want to be in the set list though, and “Freebird” from Lynyrd Skynyrd is one of them. A lot of the big names in classic rock music were ticked in this show – Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Queen, Jimi Hendrix, Meatloaf, and The Eagles to mention but a few, but often it was not the obvious songs from the bands that were performed, and although this might disappoint a few fans, The Classic Rock Show as a production is far too clever to fall into the trap of just repeating the obvious over and over on stage. It would have been nice though to hear Jess Harwood getting a chance to put her vocal talents to some Joan Jett or The Runaways songs (hint for another year maybe).
One of the nice surprises to this show was watching and listening to Jesse Smith on stage, a front-man with an impressive vocal range (and I think we only heard a small part of it here), vocal phrasing and an engaging stage presence.
Review by Tom King