Alcatrazz - Nightrain, Bradford Saturday 28th September, 2019
Rock music and Bradford go hand in hand. Some of the biggest names in the world started their gigging careers in the City. Rock venue, Nightrain is the last of the clubs/bars now and ironic that it should be hosting one of the old Legends Of Rock: Graham Bonnet.
Alcatrazz were formed in 1983 after Graham’s departure from Rainbow and have been on and off ever since. Tonight, even in this small venue the crowd was sparse but Alcatrazz still got a rapturous welcome onstage. In trademark dark sunglasses, Bonnet sat himself on a stool, explaining that as a result of impending back surgery he would have to perform that way for the evening.
Firing into set opener 'Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live' from 'No Parole From Rock 'N' Roll' album, Guitarist, Joe Stump showed his musical chops from the off with fingers flying along the fretboard at pace. The rest of the band were just as keen: Bassist, Beth-Ami Heavenstone, Original keyboardist, Jimmy Waldo and drummer, Mark Benquechea respectively.
Although billed as Alcatrazz, this was really 'The Graham Bonnet Band' because songs from all eras of his career got an airing. Classic Rainbow to Michael Schenker rarities. Even a song I haven’t heard live before in 'Nightgames' with its quirky keyboard intro. Bonnet still has the strong voice-showing little strain for his 72 years! Singing sitting down can't be easy when you have got the to whack the power out that Bonnet ‘s songs require.
'Hiroshima Mon Amour' again showed the skill of guitarist Stump - even if his stage moves were copies of Ritchie Blackmore’s in his heyday. Bonnet himself introduced Stump as, “The Best Guitarist In The World”. Praise indeed when he himself has worked with such greats as Blackmore, Malmsteen, Schenker and the rest!
'Desert Song' saw Bonnet at the back of the stage have a back massage during the extended middle eight - he was clearly struggling. Apologising for having to be seated, which did effect the atmosphere of the performance I think. A gentle tapping of the thigh was about as lively as he got. Graham showed no sign of problem vocally though and the Impelliteri track 'Stand In Line' was a highlight, being fast paced and spot on from the band with Joe Stump and Beth-Ami trading licks back to back.
There were a few technical problems with Bonnet and his monitor sound,during 'Jet 2 Jet' early in the set, when he informed us “I couldn’t hear that song. Hope it was ok”. No one noticed any problem and eventually it was resolved.
Back problems aside, at 72 years of age, how many rock singers can still hit the high notes Graham Bonnet does? The small matter of a knackered back and having to sing seated is a small price to pay for still having legendary vocalist around like Mr. B.
Review By Mark Bedford
Photographs by John Mather