Archive for the ‘Rockbrat Live Review:’ Category



A master of pop perfection – John Waite delivers the goods at Anita’s Thirroul. Photo (c) JohnnyD Photography

Anita’s Theatre in Thirroul is an elaborate, 93 year old venue with ornate fittings and superb acoustics.  For most if its existence, it existed as King’s Theatre.  It hasn’t hosted a king of rock ‘n’ roll for some time – until tonight.

In the midst of his very first, long awaited Australian tour, John Waite takes the stage to be greeted by an enthusiastic audience of a few hundred, keen to drink in four decades of sublime pop perfection.

Decked out in matching black suits, Waite is surrounded by a top shelf band including Tim Hogan on bass, Mark Ricciardi on guitar and Rhondo on drums, who plays a half kit, minus the Toms, aptly suited for the mix of acoustic and electric tunes being delivered as part of the Waite repertoire on this tour.

The band plug in and launch into ‘Midnight Rendezvous’, from The Babys fourth album, Union Jacks.  The opening chords of the super melodic ‘Change’ has the crowd up and out of their seats and dancing at side stage. Penned by Holly Knight, ‘Change’ has a super infectious riff, and it’s easy to see why it was one of MTV’s most popular videos back in 82.

Only two songs in and I’m marvelling at how good Waite’s voice sounds. Unlike many of his peers (Paul Stanley for example), Waite is on pitch and note perfect.  He has one of the most recognisable voices in rock, and as evidenced by his vocal performance tonight, he is reminding the assembled flock that he is indeed – a master of his instrument.

Waite and Ricciardi deliver an absolutely stunning version of the supreme power ballad (a term I dislike) ‘When I See You Smile’. This song climbed all the way to Number 1 in America and pretty much everywhere else.  Back in ’89, this tune stood out like a sore thumb amongst all the other hair metal detritus. It’s the only Bad English tune included in the set. I would have loved to hear ‘Best Of What I Got’ or ‘Straight To Your Heart’ but I have no complaints, as the band launch into The Babys – ‘Every Time I Think Of You’, quite possibly one of the best heavy pop songs ever recorded.

The hits are relentless, and the Anita’s crowd are lapping it up. They know they are witnessing something special.  It’s a privilege to be in the crowd witnessing the greatness of John Waite.

The audience are treated to ‘Tears’ a deep cut off of 1984’s hugely successful ‘No Brakes’ LP.  I’ve always dug this Vinnie Vincent penned tune and I for one am glad its included in tonight’s set. Sandwiched between hit songs, it’s far from out of place and could have been a hit in its own right.  I am digging the deep cuts, and am pleasantly surprised to hear ‘Mr Wonderful’, the Ivan Kral penned tune from 1982’s ‘Ignition’.  From Kral to Patty Smyth to Johnny Thunders, Waite always moved with the Big Apples coolest cats.

29595309_572056903155289_526235084515778382_nWaite disappears from the stage and allows Rhondo a drum solo.  As good as it is, I can do without it. I’ve always found drum solos tedious and my cue to head to the bar. Waite returns to deliver a plaintive and stark version of ‘Bluebird Cafe’, and then an absolutely striking version of ‘If You Ever Get Lonely’.  Accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, his smooth voice resonates deep into the back rows.

The lament about NYC, ‘Downtown’ (from 1995’s ‘Temple Bar’ LP) is probably the highlight of the night for me.  Lyrically evocative, it tells the tale of NYC before Giuliani cleaned it up, of the Minnesota Strip, St. Marks and all the assorted humanity. Johnny Thunders on the radio. Indeed.  (As a Thunders fan, I would have loved to have heard ‘No Brakes’ in tonight’s set – but as I mentioned previously, when Waite is delivering such a killer set of tunes, I’m not in a position to complain).


Isn’t it time…… Sarah McLeod belts it out with John Waite at Anita’s. Image (c) JohnnyD Photography

For those that came to hear the hits, ‘Missing You’ had the crowd again up and out of their seats. Not just a hit – but a NUMBER ONE hit. Again, endurance, durability and melody galore.  An embarrassment of riches.

A punishing version of ‘All Along The Watchtower’ follows, before the band close out the set with ‘Back on My Feet Again’, another killer tune from The Babys Union Jacks LP. Gloriously melodic hard rock.

Sarah McLeod joins the band onstage to share lead vocals on ‘Isn’t It Time’, a number 1 hit in Australia for The Babys some 40 years ago, and the crowd lap it up. Whilst she is no Anne Bertucci, McLeod more than holds her own.

Without giving the audience time to come up for air, a ball tearing version of Zep’s  ‘Whole Lotta Love’ brings proceedings to a close. By the end of the evening – it’s abundantly clear to all that Waite is one of THE singers of his generation. And the songs……. Man, there are not enough superlatives to describe the enduring songs. You can have an army of Ed Sheerans – and I’ll take one John Waite any day of the week. A pop charlatan – Sheeran doesn’t come even close to the greatness of Waite.  An absolutely stellar performance. DO NOT miss John Waite on any of his remaining Australian dates. 10 out of 10. Get your tickets from

All photos courtesy of JohnnyD Photography 




Dave Evans: the real rock n roll deal

There is a lot to like about Dave Evans’ brand of rock n roll. It’s loud, it’s fiery and it’s in-your-face. And when Evans is on form – like this evening, there’s no other place I’d rather be. As their original frontman, Dave Evans will forever be tied to AC/DC. Yet if it was nostalgia which you’d come for tonight, you were in the wrong venue. Because what is in fact dealt out, is a set list bursting with vital, tough sounding rock n roll – laced with energy and raw power.  

Tonight, Evans is backed by local Brisbane outfit Dirty Dice and they’re a great fit. This act are tight, polished and are a band you need to make a note of – it’s just the kinda stuff we dig. They hit the stage with a one-two punch of ‘Can I Sit Next To You Girl’, and then a raunchy ‘Rockin In the Parlour’. 1974 never sounded so damn good ! A re-worked ‘Sunset Strip’ – taken from last year’s ‘Wild’ EP cooks – and is followed by a kick arse take of ‘Rock n Roll Singer’. Yeah, you’ll find it on AC/DC’s ‘High Voltage’, however the tune dates back to the band’s earliest days with Dave out front. Tonight Evans indeed has the devil in his blood and sounds amazing. It’s an important point worth noting that after all this time, his powerhouse vocals are as strong as ever. He’s always had a strong vocal range and it can be felt tonight from only a few metres away. Amazing.

The ‘Sinner’ album is widely regarded as one his strongest releases and it’s a delight to hear some of that material cop an airing….’Rock n Roll Or Bust’, ‘Take Me Down Again’ and ‘Turn It Up’ sound loud and fresh but it’s ‘Sold My Soul To Rock n Roll’ which brings the house down. Could be my choice cut of the night. Evans is giving his all tonight and you’d better believe he means every lyric in that song. Guitarist Aaron has himself been playing for three decades and it shows, he has a great guitar tone and adds much muscle to the Evans catalogue. ‘Go Wild’, from the aforementioned 2017 EP ‘Wild’ is a great example of this. I had my fingers crossed for a take of ‘Revenge’ – the killer title track from an album Dave cut with John Nitzinger, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, Dave Evans and Dirty Dice close out a smoking set with a four-pronged AC/DC assault comprising TNT, Highway To Hell, a crunching Let There Be Rock and Whole Lotta Rosie.

The ringing ears will subside, as will the heat of this sweaty summer show. But tonight’s set is one which will live on in my rock n roll memory. I’ve long been of the belief that Dave Evans is the real rock n roll deal and it’s always satisfying to have that confirmed in the live environment. 10/10

Hear our 2015 i/v with Dave here

Let’s do the rock n roll math. It had been 27 years since Alice Cooper was last in the nation’s capital and this is his tenth tour downunder (a jaunt which celebrates his first Aussie tour four decades back). Yet when the live rock n roll is this hot – numbers are irrelevant.
If it’s rock n roll you came for – it was rock n roll you got – dished out in very loud, copious amounts. This venue has spent most of its life as a concrete laden basketball venue and to be honest – is in need of an upgrade. When that happens, they would be well advised to consider tossing the chairs – which tonight are in neat rows on the floor. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, nothing kills a rock n roll show like chairs. People wanna stand up and dance – get the ya ya’s out. Not easily done sitting down, though fortunately as the music heats up tonight – so too the audience who are on their feet.

The instrumental tune Fractured Mirror means it’s show time and iconic former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley opens the show with a crunching take of ‘Parasite’. Folks, when Frehley is on form, you’d better believe there is no one better. Tonight’s hour long set is beyond superb – one which is littered with tunes from his Kiss career and also his 1978 solo record. Highlights are many: ‘Strange Ways’, ‘Hard Times’, ‘Rocket Ride’ and a blazing ‘Rip It Out’. ‘This number was supposedly a hit here’ utters Space Ace – before belting into ‘Talk To Me’. It didn’t hit the pointy end of the charts back in 1980, but I sure as hell bought it back then, and it’s a treat to hear it live. Frehley’s band are top shelf and give his tunes added muscle. Co-hort Richie Scarlett has paid his dues and his history with Ace goes back to the early to mid-80’s NYC club days. Another highlight of Frehley’s set are indeed his vocals which sound stronger than ever. New York Groove and a sizzling Shock Me end proceedings – showing all and sundry – how the big boys do it. With Ace looking and sounding better than ever, I eagerly await his next studio effort.

One studio effort which has won me over is Alice Cooper’s latest titled ‘Paranormal’. It’s as solid an outing as anything he’s cut in the last twenty years and importantly, it oozes vitality. Further to that – I think that this is one aspect of his live show, which Cooper addresses and nails so so well. I am talking about penning a set list where the more recent tunes sit alongside his rich catalogue of classicks. Some artists don’t do it as well as he does and tonight – it’s a cool mix of newish and old. Case in point is 2000’s ‘Brutal Planet’ which kicks off proceedings and is capitol H – heavy. ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’, a raunchy ‘Under My Wheels’ and ‘Department of Youth’ follow and it’s smiles a mile-wide from many. Like Frehley, Cooper’s voice sounds incredible and he too looks like he’ll be raising hell for some time to come. ‘Paranoiac Personality’ from the aforementioned Paranoral is kicked out tonight to maximum effect and it’s a shame this is the only song off the new record to cop an airing. Lead guitarist Nita Strauss, like Orianthi before her – adds loud, blonde-flavoured guitar and it works so well. Strauss is no slouch and gives the Cooper show added starch. Bassist Chuck Garric has been with Cooper for some time and is rock solid. Surely I can’t be the first writer to mention that he bears a resemblance to original Coop bass man Dennis Dunaway ? Yes ? No ? I bought the ‘Constrictor’ record back in the day and loved it – ‘The World Needs Guts’ from that album is up next and it cooks. Another relative new tune Woman of Mass Distraction – from the Dirty Diamonds album is another of the more recent track on offer and again, sits in well with the familiar material. ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ is always great live as is the super infectious ‘Poison’ – which reached no 3 here back in the late 80’s. Evening highlight for me is ‘Ballad Of Dwight Fry’, always a special moment to see live – from his amazing 1971 LP ‘Love It to Death’. Another special moment to savour – in a lifetime spent devouring cool rock n roll. Fan favourite ‘I’m Eighteen’ still generates crowd electricity before an obligatory Schools Out ends the show. To summarise, this run of Australian dates is clear evidence that when it comes to spitting out rock n roll with broad appeal, Ace Frehley and Alice Cooper both remain at the top of their game.

7379552.jpegUp on the stage, it’s as hot as Hades. Homemade Sin are working hard – and sweating buckets. ‘Can we turn on the Night Ranger?’ asks Dan Baird, referring to the big fan in the corner that if turned on will give the band the big hair look of Jack Blades & co. “I’ll end up with Bon Jovi hair”, chuckles Warner Hodges. The band are in a good mood and the crowd are into it. The temperature is cooled, but its gonna take more than an exhaust fan to cool rock ‘n’ roll this hot. Welcome to the world of Dan Baird rock ‘n’ roll.

Having lived in the Balmain area in the late 1980s, I’d seen some good gigs in a number of pubs in this area- but tonight’s show trumps ‘em all. From the Gladesville Tavern to the now derelict eye-sore that is Balmain Leagues and of course, the Bridge Hotel, which over a period of years now has become of bit of a torch bearer for real rock ‘n’ roll. Arriving at the venue in time to catch Sydney up and comers, Release The Hounds, there are a hard-core of fans in tow to eat up their brand of blue collared/no frills rock n roll.  Reference points are AC/DC & Rose Tattoo, and with a set of catchy, original hard rocking tunes, these guys are on the rise and one band to look out for.

1493042895231By the time Dan Baird & Homemade Sin hit the stage at 9.45 pm, the room has filled with a moderate but enthusiastic crowd keen to witness a couple of hours of unapologetic rock ‘n’ roll.  Let’s also call it real rock n roll for unreal times. I’m at the bar charging my glass when Dan launches into the first chords of ‘Licka Sense’. I make my way to the front of the stage and position myself bang smack in front of the great Warner E Hodges. I never get tired of watching this cat play guitar, he is just so good, a showman and entertainer to boot. Speaking of boots – I notice he is wearing his distinct green cowboy boots and spurs. Like I’ve said on previous occasions, Hodges is cooler than Fonzie.

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin have been working with a set list for a month and a half- yet tonight, no set list. Dan is selecting the songs as he goes. It’s gonna be a fun night! There is an enthusiastic crowd response and the band feed off it. These guys consistently deliver the goods show after show – and set a high benchmark for themselves to deliver the best show they can. Tonight is no exception. Go search for any of their performances on youtube – you won’t find any dud performances their friends. Top shelf. Always.

From a 110 minute set there’s many highpoints – with a mix of new songs and old given an airing. Aside from ‘Licka Sense’, there are a bunch of tunes performed from the new album, ‘Rollercoaster’, and all sound hot. There’s ‘Love Gone Wong’, a rollicking ‘Shake It Til Its Sore’, the big hitting swagger of ‘Knocked Out Cold’, and the Zeppelinesque/Bad Company cross that is ‘Can You Hear Me Now’. Hodges is let loose on this one and is a joy to behold – and hear. What a tune. Shredding with feel – like no one else on the planet.

1493040499496.jpegThere is an absolute ball busting take of the epic ‘Crooked Smile’, from 2008’s debut ‘Homemade Sin’ album. This song is an out-and-out monster and reminds me of Neil Young jamming with Crazy Horse in the early 70s.  The song belongs to Warner Hodges – and is quite possibly the best 10 minutes of rock n roll that you are ever likely to see. In this brief period he finesses, shreds, bends, motors, taps and still finds time to throw his Les Paul over his shoulder! If you want to know why Hodges is so good – go watch this on youtube.  The rapturous response from the crowd tells me what I already knew – they got to see something just that little bit special. Why don’t more people know this song ? Go listen. It’s beyond superlatives.

‘Two For Tuesday’ is another highlight – oozing Fogertyisms and complete with a few bars of ‘Proud Mary’ thrown in for legitimacy. This tune has hit single all over it and like many things Baird has penned, is a melodic sing along, catchy and memorable.

1493042899515.jpegKeeping in mind that the band are without a set list, Hodges shows genuine delight when Dan launches into the first chords of ‘On My Way’, a deep cut off the superb Buffalo Nickel album. A technical issue sees him fixing his guitar rig mid song, yet the band never drop a note. An AC/DC devotee, Hodges tells the audience how Angus Young turned up at a Scorchers gig during their 1988 Australian tour and presented Warner with a wireless unit – which could have come in handy tonight!  The band then launch into ‘Julie & Lucky’ and ‘I Love You Period’, both from 1992’s ‘Love Songs’ LP, the latter charting in Australia. Not to be outdone by Hodges, drummer Mauro Magellan performs running repairs on his hi-hat mid song – without missing a beat! The guys a pro – a monster drummer, and quite the artist too.

‘Movin’ Right Along’, another should have been classic from the ‘Get Loud’ album sounds 1493040504449.jpeggreat to my ears and gets the girls up and grooving. As does ‘Keep Your Hands To Yourself’, a song no doubt many punters came to hear, and who instead left hearing a truckload of other lesser known Baird classics as well. ‘Hands’ climbed all the way to Number Two on the Billboard Hot 100, and was denied the top spot by Bon Jovi’s ‘Living On A Prayer’. Turn that  Night Ranger fan up to full!

The Satellites material sounds timeless – testament to the song writing. Its great to hear ‘Mon Cherie’ and ‘Hard Luck Boy’, both rippin’ tunes with Micke Nilsson thumping hard on bass and laying down the groove. He’s a bad-ass bass player, who continues to hold his own amongst his more illustrious and seasoned band mates.

Dan dedicates ‘Sheila’, to an old bandmate, Ginny Whittaker whom he played with in The Rabbits back in 1980. Only a couple days before, in an interview with The Australian Rock Show, Dan talked about aging and death, and how every day you open Facebook to hear of a notable passing. The moment is not lost on me.

The ultimate tribute/commentary to Carny folk, ‘Fairground People’ scores two thumbs up, before a punishing version of ‘Railroad Steel’ ends proceedings. What a killer set. For those that were there, this was 110 minutes of the best rock n roll you are ever likely to see. For those that weren’t, be sure to see the band on tour soon. The best rock n roll band in the world – without a shadow of a doubt – Dan Baird & Homemade Sin.

Listen to an interview with Dan Baird on The Australian Rock Show from April 2017 here

Read Cowboy Col’s review of ‘Rollercoaster’, the 2017 album of the year.

Read why Cowboy Col considers Dan Baird & Homemade Sin to be the best band in the world.

all images (c) Colin Gray/Cowboy Col.



Cherie Currie: The Queen of Noise hits Sydney (photo: D.Gray)

The California summer may never end, but tonight in downtown Sydney – it was a cold and chilly wind that greeted me when I arrived at Sydney University’s Manning Bar for a dose of Cherie Currie flavoured rock n roll.

I never in my wildest dreams, thought Cherie would jet downunder, yet here we are – half way through a run of gigs in both New Zealand and Australia. I for one, am appreciative. If you search this blog, you will correctly conclude I have been a Runaways disciple (and vocal supporter) for decades. In fact, 1977’s Waitin’ For The Night is forever etched in my top ten favourite records of all time. So again, having Cherie Currie announce a tour of Australia some months back was welcome news.

With no fanfare (or intro tape for that matter) – Currie and band crash the stage with a blistering take of ‘American Nights’. Kim Fowley wrote some mighty infectious songs throughout his life – and this is up there with the best of em, still sounding as potent as ever some forty years after he and former Hollywood Star Marc Anthony co-penned it.

The Velvet Underground classic ‘Rock n Roll’ figures in Runaway-history way back to when they were a trio – (Joan, Sandy and Micki Steele) and is aired next. Although considered sacrilegious by some to say anything negative about the Velvet Underground
– I will nevertheless take the risk and reiterate the long held belief of many – The Runaways’ recording of Rock n Roll from 1976 stomps all over the original – closely followed in my opinion by Mitch Ryder and Detroit’s interpretation from 1972. Ms Currie belts this out like it’s 1977 and the Sydney set are diggin’ it.

‘Rock n Roll Rosie’ – penned for the upcoming Suzi Quatro film is cool and catchy – and littered with lyrics expressing Currie’s admiration for one of Detroit’s finest. If you get ahold of Currie’s just-released ‘Midnight Music in London’ album – check out this one out closely as Quatro herself joins Cherie on stage for a guest stint. Two thumbs up from Mr Rockbrat.

The frenetic ‘Dear Mum’ is shadowed by a thumping ‘Is It Day Or Night’. I’ve always dug Fowley’s cryptic lyrics on this – ‘Porcupine kiss, novacaine lips’ – how the hell he came up with lines like that is beyond my comprehension. Most punters tonight seem familiar with the tune so I’m guessing the Runaways debut LP would be in their iTunes (modern talk for K-tel Record Selector)…

Y’know one of the best things to come out of the Runaways film – apart from turning kids onto the band – was that the youngsters got hipped to artists like Bowie and the great Nick Gilder. Tonight Cherie and band crank out a heavied-up take of Gilder’s ‘Roxy Roller’ and it’s a
night highlight. Man Nick Gilder had some tunes didn’t he !? Cherie’s rendition of ‘Roxy Roller’ smokes and her recorded version you can hear on her upcoming album due out in September.  Yes, finally – Blackheart Records will release the new Cherie Currie album (applause). About time.

I return from the bar just as Cherie cranks a bunch of my favourite Runaways tunes: “Heartbeat”, “Queens of Noise”, ‘California Paradise’ and a stunning “Midnight Music”. Currie’s voice is stonger than ever by the way – the proof is there for all to hear – especially in songs like the raging California Paradise. Currie knows how to work an audience so well, and I am beginning to think I shoulda got a ticket for another show as well. Darn it.

The impact David Bowie had on Cherie Currie is immense – life changing, and the couple of Bowie songs she performed in his honor tonight were heart felt and emotion charged. A visibly upset Cherie momentarily paused and spilled tears during a stunning rendition of Lady Grinning Soul. In many years of seeing live music, this is one moment I will treasure – nothing staged or pretentious, just warm and real. “Rebel Rebel” follows fast and man it’s good. Bowie would be smiling. So too Mick Ronson – whose contributions to much of
Bowie’s work must never be underestimated…(isn’t the integral piano part contained in Lady Grinning Soul played by Ronno?!)

Incidentally, if you view The Runaways movie – you’ll see Dakota Fanning performing Bowie’s Lady Grinning Soul at the school talent show and have food thrown at her… Cherie tonight re-corrects this with “actually I did 1984 and I won that fuckin’ show”. So there you go readers. For what it’s worth I reckon “1984” from Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album woulda been a better choice for Fanning to do…and it woulda kept the story straight.

“Believe” – lifted off the recent Reverie album is an album highlight and is aired tonight to welcoming ears. Maybe I’m all Kiss-ed out but I could do without the cover of Kiss’ Do You Love Me. Yep, thanks Sherlock, I am aware it’s another Fowley co-write, but as a life-long Kisser,  I could pass on this. Whoever does Cherie’s set-list, strike a line through the
Kiss cover and replace it with Russ Ballard’s Since You’ve Been Gone will ya !? Or how about the Roni Lee/Kim Fowley stomper ‘I Wanna Be Where The Boys Are’ ? ! Hell yeah !!!

The hour long set closes with a fiery “Cherry Bomb”. It’s become an anthem, and deservedly so.  It’s a memorable ending.

In closing let me state this: Cherie Currie is the real rock n roll deal. A trail blazer. If you know your facts – you’ll know her life has had many challenges, but Currie remains strong and is an inspiration to many. I have seen many great nights of live rock n roll, and tonight’s show by Cherie Currie is up there with the best of em.

Hear an interview conducted with Cherie on the eve of her Australian tour here



Orianthi - Adelaide Dec 2014

Orianthi – the homecoming queen of shred – under lights – and in the rockbrat lens !

Christmas came early for the lucky few who nabbed a ticket to Orianthi’s hometown gig last Sunday 21st December, cos they witnessed some Australian rock n roll history (nope, I ain’t referring to beau Richie Sambora guesting with her either). See, Ori rarely does solo shows downunder, and this performance was by an artist at the very top of her game.
I saw her at Sydney’s Enmore as part of Sambora’s band back in  February – and although she shined, I really wanted to see her headline – which would give me the chance to see if she’s worthy of  all the accolades. After lengthy flight delays, I finally stand in this sweaty  live venue (Hindmarsh’s Gov) nursing a pint of Coopers and await the arrival of the Queen of Shred. Not being a Crow-Eater, openers –  The Stefan Hauk Band were a complete unknown to me, but I was soon very impressed. This solid three-piece belted out some quality blooze – winning over a room-full of guitar-geeks with a tight set of original tunage. Hauk is a name to file away folks. At around 9:30pm, Miss Orianthi storms the stage – kicking off a sweaty 2 hour set with ‘Heaven In This Hell’ – the title track from her most recent album. ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ from the Believe’ album is up next and it cooks. Was great to see Ori churning tunes out from that record – even ‘Think Like a Man’ with its heavy raunch chorus is played and is well received. Former Eurythmic Dave Stewart produced and co-wrote much of the material off ‘Heaven In This Hell’ – including the infectious ‘Filthy Blues’ – aired tonight to maximum effect – and the army of six-string geeks packed in this venue have smiles a mile wide. By the way, I never got around to reviewing ‘Heaven In This Hell’ but to summarize – it’s littered with catchy, guitar-fuelled tunes and is close to some of her most outstanding work.

Rumours are that next year, there is an album’s worth of material with Sambora to look forward to – but that being said, I ‘still’ do not think we have heard the best of Orianthi and am excited about what she will produce over the next 18 months or so. You can quote me on that too. The Desmond Child co-penned ‘Bad News’ gets cranked – beats me why this was never a radio hit – all the commercial ingredients are there, and is followed by Orianthi welcoming Richie Sambora to the stage. Saw him with Bon Jovi back on 87 and 89 tours and the guy is an amazing talent. His strong vocals were a massive, massive part of his former band’s sound and no matter what you may read or think, he is the real rock n roll deal. He and Ori run through the Nicks/Petty classic ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’ which was a real surprise. They also blaze through Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ which gets the place high – however it was Orianthi I came to see – so dueting on her ‘You Don’t Wanna Know’ – as they’ve done at many shows this year – was much cooler. Incidentally, the band were comprised of guys who she’d played in a covers band with at 15 – which was a nice touch I thought. You gotta admire that about Orianthi – although a world-wide star, she remains unaffected and as humble as ever – qualities which are not often found in that world of fame. Encores were the popular, but seldom-played-live ‘According To You’ and the riff-laden ‘Sex E Bizarre’ – followed by the Coop’s ‘School’s Out’ (with Sambora)  – which was a nice acknowledgement of her former boss, who she’d spent a couple of years on the road with. ‘Voodoo Chile’ closes a very memorable evening – and was the stuff guitar-nerds fantasize about.

In three decades of seeing bands – tonight’s show easily makes my top 10. Yes, Orianthi deserves all the accolades (she was once referred to as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime musician’). She is gifted and can play anything. But be in no doubt, she has rock n roll pulsing through her veins and that for me, is essentially what it’s all about.

skynyrd_australiaLynyrd Skynyrd are just as important as the Rolling Stones.

That is a rock n roll fact. This was indeed Skynyrd’s first ever tour downunder, and a welcome one
at that. The guy in the seats in front has brought along his teenage daughters – both decked out in Skynyrd tees. I should really nominate him for Father of The Year – cos he has succesfully weened his kids onto the right kinda rock.
Well done friend. Melbourne outfit My Dynamite opened the show tonight and in a word and were impressive – grabbing the opportunity to perform on a large stage with both hands. Comparisons to the Black Crowes should be taken as a compliment – and it is re-assuring to know My Dynamite are around. As their set grew, so did their confidence – and they eventually had the majority of those in attendance hooked and on board. A name to make a note of.

My brother and I have long been Lynyrd Skynyrd disciples – in the very early 80’s we would play the ‘Gold & Platinum’ double album till the old Sanyo hi-fi exploded. It was an education which was indeed, life changing. From there the journey took us further – and what an amazing ride of discovery – 38 Special, Blackfoot, Van Zant and the amazing Rossington-Collins records. When the band reformed, I always had my fingers crossed for a tour – but to no avail – and our paths never crossed in the times when we trekked across the USA. But here we are at last. In the Sydney Entertainment Centre, on a humid summer’s evening – with a few thousand fellow rock fans – all standing at the ready – in the presence of gods, as it were.

I heed the call of the ‘show is starting alarm’ and find my seat. Screw that, I’m gonna stand I decide – and commence dancing to ‘Workin’ for MCA’ with a beer in one hand and a grin a mile wide. the stomping I Ain’t the One follows, then they air the title track from the album they are touring ‘Last of a Dyin’ Breed’. It cooks. The crowd are appreciative, and the band are on form. What’s Your Name, Gimme Back My Bullets, Down South Jukin’, That Smell, You Got That Right, Saturday Night Special, I Know a Little – it was a set-list to savour. The fan in front of me was in ballistic bliss – and who could blame him ? Ex-Black Crow Johnny Colt – who I’d last seen at the Hordern back in 92 fits the band well, and his Thunderbird bass grunt is a welcome addition. The shadow of Leon Wilkeson will always loom large, but Colt looks right at home. Simple Man is next and a definite highlight – how cool is Johnny Van Zant ? No dancing and prancing – like Malcolm, Angus, Wells and Co. The real deal. To his left stand Gary Rossington – a rock n roll icon. He leaves a lot of the lead work to Rickey Medlocke and Mark Matejka but commands your attention nonetheless. Tuesday’s Gone, a rollicking Gimme Three Steps, Call Me the Breeze are aired next – the set being closed with the obligatory Sweet Home Alabama. Skynyrd encore with Free Bird, and as I dance and play air guitar – in perfect sync with Medlocke – I feel the energy inside me – I am high on the true excess of pure rock n roll.

The houselights come on and I am soon wandering near the stage – hoping to snag a missed Rossington or Medlocke pick. No dice and no great drama neither – cos I
have the memory and it is one I will cherish. You see – rock n roll dreams do sometimes come true – and yes, Lynyrd Skynyrd are as important as the Stones. People should respect that. Rock n Roll.