Graham Bonnet The Brook, Southampton
July 1st 2007

A two hour trip to a new - to me - venue: The Brook in Southampton. It certainly looks bigger on the website! Still, anywhere meant a good view & the beer was surprisingly cheap (£2.70 for a cold John Smiths, as opposed to £3 for a warm, small bottle of lager(?) at the NEC).

The support band was the Planet of Women - a sort of female fronted AC/DC with a Maggie Bell soundalike lead vocalist. They played adequate rock 'n' roll & passed the time reasonably while awaiting the main event. The small venue was by no means full when Bonnet & the band took the stage, but the welcome was a rousing one nevertheless. Bonnet greeted the audience with a raucous "Hello!" before explaing that the band were "sh*tting themselves" as he only made it back from the hospital with 5 minutes to spare. He is again having throat problems & had to go to get something for it. Oh dear, thinks I, this doesn't bode well.

I needn't have worried - from the first verse of Eyes of the World, to the encore of Lost in Hollywood, he gave it his all & only lost 'the voice' on a very few occasions. The set list would appear to be the same for the other gigs on this tour.

It is a fairly balanced set, with more Rainbow than MSG (Desert Song only); Alcatrazz (Suffer Me only) &, for me, the best songs from the Welcome to America album which I've had for a while now. The wonderful Station 208 always brings back memories of trying to get decent reception on a tinny little transistor radio! The album is a definite 'grower' & highly recommended for Bonnet & guitar fans alike. Stargazer was the only strange choice from the Rainbow canon, as it will always be a Dio song - that said, he did a very good version tonight (better than Donnington for sure). He also related the tale of the unplanned Donnington performance of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow before doing a stonkin version of it backed by the two ladies from Planet of Women (who remained with him for Night Games, All Night Long & Since You Been Gone.

So, in summary, a worthwhile drive & a very enjoyable night in the company of Mr Bonnet & the very proficient Taz Taylor Band. The new material blended very well with the 'hits' & Taylor is a good guitarist who did the Blackmore bits with a nod to the original, but with his own slant. Bonnet still amazes with his all or nothing delivery - I'm not sure sinews & blood vessels should be that prominent!!

I will certainly look forward to his next visit to these shores - I'm now off to play Welcome to America as a happy reminder of a damn good night.

review: Tom Dixon

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