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The Graham Bonnet Band/Lyin Rampant –

Corporation, Sheffield, Sunday 26th November, 2023

On a cold night towards the end of of the eleventh month a gang of us enter the realms of our very own Steel City to witness what could well be one of the best shows of the year – though I wasn't there the previous night, as Mr. E tells me.

Set List: Crazee/Breakdown/Indoor Games/Don't Walk Away/Promises/Fantasy Girl/Say Goodbye (Sayonara).

To our delight the show tonight is in the big room and is already filling up for the support band who myself, Simon & Steve thought was a pretty big haired lass not unlike Lisa Dominique or Lita Ford in her prime – I misread it at Lyn Rampant... hahaha – only me right. So we down a couple of pints and have a gas with the Set List Collector, Mr. B who is rather famous in his own right!

The music gets louder and the lights go down but our supposed hot raunchy female is actually a Scottish Geezer who looks like a cross between Noddy Holder and Tommy Aldridge with the stance of David Coverdale, the late Phil Naro and a voice not unlike the said Whitesnake Frontman and Biff Byford combined. What we saw was their album cover from 1987 called 'Up And Cumin'! Talk about heading down the wrong path! After a bit of research later on I find out he is a dude going by the name of Stewartie Adams, who was the Singer/Guitarist of NWOBHM band, Tytan.

Now these old muckers are on fire and can really play. You could just tell they had been around the block a few times and what they did not know was not worth knowing. I was really impressed by how polished they were with their Classic late 70's and mid 80's blue collar Hard Rock numbers like the opening 'Crazee'; the mid-tempo 'Breakdown'; the early like 80's Leppard sounds of 'Fantasy Girl' or closing cut 'Say Goodbye (Sayonara)' that'd fit nicely on an old chick flick.

It was like the music of the 90's and onwards had never existed – much to our pleasure since they totally rocked our boats and even throwing in a lovely ballad that went by the name of 'Don't Walk Away'. Plenty of Rock Star posing happened during the set and it was mega to see the microphone stand moved around quite a bit in a variety of angles.

This gang went down great to the folk in here who were about similar age to the band mostly – a well-picked support act indeed for the up and coming Skeggy Legend. Not to mention that we were reminded that they had cds for sale and hung out all night after they had finished on stage too.

Set List: Eyes Of The World/All Night Long/Love's No Friend/Makin' Love/Since You've Been Gone/Keyboard Solo – Lazy (Deep Purple Cover)/Imposter/S.O.S./Desert Song/Uncle John/Drum Solo/Jet To Jet/Night Games/Too Drunk/Assault Attack.

Encore: Lost In Hollywood.

Now I was so chuffed to see how packed it was for Graham and his band – the man is a Rock Icon after all and thoroughly deserves a large capacity healthy audience.

The sound mix was warm and loud and you could tell everyone had worked a while with the engineers to make sure it was utterly crisp clarity with everything standing out really clear. The backing vocals came across great too, giving the show that extra oomph as well as the atmosphere being loving and extremely friendly onstage – it was more like a family unit kind of vibe than a bunch of performers up there being paid to entertain us. One of those shows where everyone was smiling and having fun throughout the entire show. I must say that this was easily best line-up I have ever seen of his band. They were note-perfect throughout!

Mr, Bonnet himself was completely full of humour and was a laugh a minute between songs with his voice being absolutely bang on form - in fact it was the best I have ever heard him to be honest. Oh and he does love telling us the story about splitting his tight trousers and exposing his penis which he waggled around, fell into the crowd and got fired from Michael Schenker's band that night. He always likes to say it was down to a drinking session with the Whitesnake guys at the time! I can imagine him doing stand-up since he was that funny.

He talked about being part of Schenkerfest (that happened in 2018) and that it was great getting back with him again - I was there and what a show it was at another venue in Sheffield! He also went on to say wanted to catch Michael on the current tour but they'd not managed it yet (they actually got to see him a few days later in Manchester on a rare day off).

Graham talked a bit about his late, great guitarist friend, Bernie Marsden and decidated 'Love's No Friend Of Mine' to him. He even reminisced about joining Rainbow all those years ago saying he had not even heard about them at the time but knew of Deep Purple – now what a perfect excuse to perform 'Since You've Been Gone' to a very enthusiastic crowd.

The set-list is really well crafted together thanks to Beth-Ami and was mainly older well-recognised numbers from various points in Graham's long career. The audience was kept interested at all times without the band going off into a long tangent of material they were not familiar with although a couple of new numbers were aired in 'Too Drunk' and 'Imposter' and no-one left to go to the toilet – hahaha!

It's always fab to hear songs like 'Makin' Love' the classic 'All Night Long'; 'S.O.S.' and Desert Song (of which we get to hear twice in the same week done by a different vocalist of the MSG Band! Then of course there was the truly exquisite, nocturnal fuelled ditty called 'Night Games' and the killer 'Jet To Jet' .

Ms. Heavenstone told us to go and meet her Sister (as she calls her) who was doing merch, stating that she non other than the widow of James Brown, Tommie-Rae Brown to be exact. The two had known each other years since Beth-Ami was the Bassist in Tommie-Rae's band, Hardly Dangerous which Brown fronted. In fact, funnily enough, even Lead Guitarist, Conrado Pesinato was in a later line-up of the band.

The band has a new keyboardist in Allesandro Bentoni who is spectacular and furthermore gets to stand out in his own right with a solo as well as an amazing instrumental rendition of Deep Purple's 'Lazy'. On his front left stands Conrado - a true master of the Stratocaster. His Fender looks like its been through a few gigs, tours or wars in its time to say the least. Then there's Newcastle born drummer, Kyle Hughes who Graham exclaims, “Is he's only 26”. The blonde maned guy also plays with Marco Mendoza and Ron 'Bumblefoot' Thal (an ex-member of a later Guns 'N' Roses line-up) – he's never not working this percussion cat! What an impressive drum solo too!

There was a tumbleweed moment in the gig when Graham asked if one of his mates is in the audience called 'Dave'.... a mass of silence ensured! Of course the old duffer wasn't there at that precise moment of course – a swallow me up happening indeed haha! The main set ended with the always powerful 'Assault Attack' which always blows people away no matter where happens to be performed! After coming back for the  encore Graham laughed to us all and exclaimed, “ You knew we were gonna come back on!” whereby they brought the proceedings to an end with that Rainbow 'Down To Earth' closer 'Lost In Hollywood' which went across incredible!

After the show, they promised to come out to meet us all after they did just that – chatting, signing and posing for photos with fans and friends alike. It was really nice and fulfilling to re-connect with Graham & Beth-Ami again who are truly lovely people inside and out – as are the entire band. There was a lot of merchandise sold that night and I've got to say hand on heart that this was one of the most momentous Sunday nights I have ever spent in Sheffield – it really was that good!


By Glenn Milligan

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