Burning Rain / Ben Miles – Real Time Live, Chesterfield, Wednesday 3rd April, 2019

Set List: Waiting By The Train/Push & Dirty/What Your Mother Didn't Know/Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel Cover)/I Just Can't Get Over You/Bonehead/I Just Wanna Make Love To You (Muddy Waters Cover)/Trouble/Come Together (The Beatles Cover).

Well it's a good year since we last stepped foot in this venue and was pleased to get in here since the acoustics are great and kinda feels like Chezzy's answer to the late defunct Boardwalk in Steel City. It's pretty damn busy from the get go since many want to secure that perfect position for tonight's proceedings that are started off with lonesome local bluesman, Ben Miles. He's quite a presence there with his great looking guitars and boombox on the floor.

A strong voice he has there and really warms up the crowd on this cold April night, giving us a healthy helping of his original songs that come from his two albums (Live At Rockingham Gate & Great Unknown) plus some choice covers, with 'Sledgehammer' saving the set for him when he forgets the words to one of his own numbers. He tells us that's never happened before either – we really felt for him at that moment too. As Tonito said, “He seemed to get his confidence back after that.”

Ben pumped out some high-powered blues and very much put me in mind of old-timer, Seasick Steve and various legends of days gone by like Muddy Waters and Elmore James at their finest. He had us singing along to the odd line at times and astounded us with his second to none guitar-work – especially his to-die-for slide playing in one or two songs. That ole stomp box rules!

Set List: Jumping Jack Flash/Revolution/Midnight Train/Cherie, Don't Break My Heart/Smooth Locomotion/Beautiful Road/Purple Haze/All Along The Watchtower/You Can't Always Get What You Want/Can't Turn Your Back On Love/My Lust Your Fate/If It's Love/Dancing Days/Black Dog/Rock Candy/Lorelei/Heaven Goes Me By/Forevermore/Tangerine/Good Times Bad Times.

Well this was really cool to see these guys on our side of the pond again, since I was last in their presense in Anaheim during the Winter Namm period at Keith's Ronnie Montrose Remembered Night in January... speed onto tonight and they are here on UK soil, so to speak starting an acoustic tour as Burning Rain – they are half of the band, btw – the two original members.

They settled into their seats happily enough and greeted us with amples of love. With a brand new album in tow going by the name of 'Face The Music' on Frontiers they were soon delivering us a couple of tracks ('Revolution' & 'Midnight Train') after The Rolling Stones standard 'Jumping Jack Flash) that had many singing along to and later on 'Beautiful Road' and 'Lorelei'. It's great to say that plenty of folk in here had already bought the new release which had only been out two or three weeks – good going Chesterfield! In fact, many fans in here seemed to own all of the Burning Rain albums. We get at least one or two tracks from each one showing nothing had been neglected set-wise.

We were the guinea pigs for the UK/European tour since this was the first ever show they had embarked on, therefore it was long with Keith and Doug trying out a big array of songs in the set to see what they could nail and put over well – funnily enough it all worked for them proving they could do whatever they felt like at whatever venue in the world. Some Burning Rain songs had not even been attempted before either but you'd never realise it. Good deal boys, good deal! It was cool to be dealt some Hendrix cuts too in the form of some 'Purple Haze' plus that song he made even more famous by Bob Dylan that both went down well.

Doug's bladder was full after the 'Watchtower' moment and it was a toss up between holding it in or relieving himself backstage while Keith entertained us in one way or another. It was decided to let him empty – well let's face it, you can't concentrate on things right when you need a pee can you? So while he was away from the stage Keith performed The Rolling Stones 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' perfectly enough without a word missing at all, with Doug joining in towards the end of it. Of course, the fans sung along too and both of the BR Boys were real impressed at how good our voices were.

Talking of voices, these two armed with an acoustic each sounded so on form, with plenty of bottled water being consumed to keep the throat subtle and lubricate, not mention plenty of throat spray for Keith since there's nothing worse than the note dropping out when its a high one – which most of these notes were. 'Cherie, Don't Break My Heart' and 'Can't Turn Your Back On Love' were quite simply epic. Doug had a Guinness too while he was up there. I am sure it's not the same in the states from personal experience so I get why he was craving one – haha.

I am guessing that these dudes dig Led Zep, seeing as there was plenty of their ditties spun throughout the set with Keith teasing with a line or two of 'Black Dog'. A guy in the crowd shouted to sing it all – they gave it a go and got it spot on – much their amazement too lol! A lot of spur-of-the-moment improvisation was happening that was built on from an outline plan for a set. We even got a bit of Montrose too in the form of a shortened snippet of the marvellous 'Rock Candy' coming complete with crowd singalong after someone shouting the band name.

Other songs out the bag included a Whitesnake song that Doug co-wrote from the 'Forevermore' album that are seldom heard – the title track itself. Funnily enough, Doug even told us that when some folk heard the early Burning Rain songs, they said they had a massive resemblence to one or two of the Whitesnake songs from the said album. In fact, he went on to tell us that 'Forevermore' was the last song he wrote for Mr. Coverdale.

It really was a special moment too to hear him sing solo since most of the time he's only usually heard doing backing backing vocals for either Burning Rain or The Dead Daisies cuts. Definitely a highlight of the night and especially for my buddy, Michael Kissane who also loved their own penned number 'It's Only Love' and no doubt many more as well!

Soundwise it was so bright, pristine and warm with performances to match plus great lighting in the venue. I personally loved the dark, dipping, shadowy atmospheric moment that even Doug and Keith commented on. They also talked about the overall vibe of the 'Epic Obsession' because it was written about what one of the members was going through at that point in time before cranking into the beautiful ballad 'Heaven Gets Me By'.

To sum it all up, both fans and the band members were so happy to be there with plenty of smiling and laughing throughout the night - not to mention the two of them putting each other on the spot with what to do next. There was no safety net here tonight and due to them both being true professionals, it seems they can pull songs out of thin air or from their back catalogue, then fire them at us with absolute grace. Not to mention massive amples of classic, informative banter and brilliant humour between and at times during the various songs.

The last numbers of the night were some more Led Zeppelin classics ('Tangerine' & 'Good Times Bad Times' in this case), that matched a Page/Plant reunion in sheer quality and exuberance. We could have marvelled in their acoustic glory all night but all good things do need to come to an end don't they? Anyways, after they finally left the stage, they came out after a freshen up to sign CD's, Pictures and posters and chatted with everyone for a long time, not to mention, posing for many photos with fans.

A faultless and priceless show indeed! Would love to see them back soon with the rest of the band - the other members being drummer, Blas Elias and bassist, Brad Lang. Doug and Keith certainly wet our appetites for it to say the least.

10/10

 

By Glenn Milligan