I never thought I would ever get a chance to see the legendary Graham Bonnet live! What I saw last night was not just a dream come true, but one of the best live experiences I have ever had. Considering the amount of concerts I attend, you know this show must have been AMAZING!
With a legacy like the one Bonnet has there was fear that the voice wouldn't be what I remembered, but a few lines into the Alcatrazz classic, Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live, it was apparent 'the voice' was not only there... but maybe better than it ever was. Bonnet has always had a powerful and very BIG voice with lot of range and when he hit the very high second verse of Impellitteri's Stand In Line, it was still there!!! I think I teared up a bit, no lie. And it's not just the voice, Bonnet on stage is funny, very charming and has a story for everything. some less embarrassing than others.
As solid as Graham was, it was the band that really made this a true event. Joining Bonnet was bassist Beth-Ami Heavenstone who not only provided a solid foundation for everyone to shine, she added some great textures to the backing vocals. Former Alcatrazz partner Jimmy Waldo was a wizard on the keyboards and really added color to the songs, especially on Islands In The Sun and Desert Song. Behind it all, keeping the beat was drummer Mark Benquechea who was every bit the showman as his frontman, playing hard and keeping the spirit of Cozy Powell alive. But, it was guitarist Joey Tafolla who had the hardest job... and delivered the goods every time. Having to play songs made famous by Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Chris Impelliterri is a tough task, but Joey did a fantastic job
How about the songs? There was every song from every project Bonnet was involved with that I thought I never would hear live; Michael Schenker Group's Desert Song, Samurai and Assault Attack. Alcatrazz was well represented with six songs including my favorite, God Blessed Video. There were the classics from Rainbow's DOWN TO EARTH album; Since You Been Gone, All Night Long, Lost In Hollywood and Eyes Of The World, the songs Bonnet was probably best known for. What I thought was so impressive is the newer songs played, Into The Night and California Air fit perfectly into this set list of some of rock's greatest songs. We also got forgotten gems, S.O.S and Night Games from his underrated solo debut, 1981's LINE UP.
The venue, Daryl's House (yes, THAT Daryl's House) could be my new favorite place to see a show. A classic look, great sound system and overall 'feel good vibe' made this the right venue for this show. Granted, Pawling, New York is a two hour drive for me, but I will be back... be warned!
The night ended with some very time spent with the band. Here I found out a great many things; Beth-Ami HATES the Pittsburgh Penguins, Joey played in a UFO cover band, Jimmy and I have the same birthday, Mark loves UFO (and wants a book) and Graham is as cool a guy offstage as he is on.
Thank you guys, and lady for an incredible night of music, memories and fun!
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.