GODS 2003 - Penningtons, Bradford, UK, - May 24th and 25th

DAY 1 - STAN BUSH, Dare, Grand Illusion, Urban Tale, Lost Weekend. Pride, Raine

DAY 2 - TALISMAN, Bob Catley, Royal Hunt, Tamplin, Burns Blue, Danny Vaughn, Nexx, Evidence One, Talon

For the first time, Metalliville have made it to one of Britain's No1 annual AOR event's two-night stands. With no Z-rock planned for '03, such compensation couldn't have come at a better time. Mr Attrill was there to see it all.


Having checked into the hotel at about lunchtime, I have a few hours to enjoy the wonders of Bradford once again before setting my trajectory for Penningtons. Due to a mess-up with sources relating to the opening time of the venue


Take to the stage just a few minutes before I take to the floor and as a result, I miss most of the weekend's first song. These five quite young-looking American lads warm the so far squalid population with an impressive brand of commerical pop rock, a bit like a watered-down Von Groove in places. They were originally called Rainmaker and have played previous Gods and why they are here again as an opening act is a little miffing. A pleasant start to the afternoon but where is everybody - barely sixty-odd in at this time. higher slot next time lads, you deserve it.




Contributors from our side of the pond now, the opening number 'How Long' is about the only tune I know by title from Sussex quintet Pride. They blend the melodies of fellow Now & Then signings, On The Rise - at least some recompense for said Norwegian act aborting the bill - with Early Mitch Malloy with a distinctively broader sound, probably associable with their twin guitar sound, which becomes three when the vocalist dons his acoustic on one tune. One of the songs sounds quite Ten-ish to some ears, whilst 'Say You're Not Lonely' is again parked in the Malloy space and 'Still Raining' is another cut I can look forward to hearing on CD - anthems, both. More British glory in the melodic rock wars.



If there was any band conveniently placed to play this festival then Lost Weekend would reap the laurels hands down. Hailing from Halifax, about ten minutes drive from the event's current hometown, they are another act with previous Gods history, and as I have missed all their previous appearances, has the wait been finally worth it? Oh yes. Oh yep-indeedy do. Quite why they've taken so much abuse from critics in the past certainly doesn't gel, and certainly doesn't matter now as they put on a 45-minute blinder of a set, the highlight being 'Holding On', a melodic rock highlight of 2000, its year of creation, and one that comes to mind every time I think of this band. Guitarist, Dave Thompson knows how to sweat in more ways than one - I could read the words 'Why aren't there any f*** showers on the stage' right across his face as the show goes further on. On merit of this performance and latest album 'New Religion', Lost Weekend are undoubtedly a band boosting the British roster's status in the melodic rock scene. Carrying on as they are now, they have the potential to make their past cynics look very silly in public.




Most oddly dressed act of the day, I can see one or two of the members of Urban Tale's sexualities being questioned here. Anyway, anything goes in hard rock today, and there's no questioning the music, a virtually stainless performance and sound throughout - the songs from both their existent albums, 'Urban Tale' and newie 'Signs Of Times' sounding inexplicably more powerful together under the same roof as they do on their respective discs. The secret to it all is Kimmo Blom's ultra fine range which pulls the attention to each and every number with the aid of the chilling contemporary melodies he relies on. If I'm any judge, this guy is heading the nominee list for Scandinavia's answer to James LaBrie. With material generating such pulses as 'King of Hearts', 'Doris Day', 'Open Your Heart', 'Son Of A Gun', 'Still Strong', 'Runaway Train', 'Daylight' and 'Circus', not only through Blom but all five guys as the tight unit they are, it takes but not a moment to understand why this group returned to the Gods a second time. These Finns finish their show much too soon for most people's likings.




The sole non-Frontiers-signed act of the weekend, Swedish fivesome, Grand illusion have quite a tough act to follow after fellow Scandies Urban Tale left them with little roof to blow off. Peddling the same brand of lush AOR we have come to associate Escape acts with, the signs are good again. I see a smile on Mark Ashton's face as he looks on. And you should see the look on my face when none other than Mr Chris Ousey of Heartland strides onstage for a couple of numbers, bringing a good few tears to eyes in the house in the process, and a little later on in the set pops back up for another (I should think so, too, Ouse'). Excusing the distraction (If we can), Illusion managed to perform a few winners tonight as well as those with said Mancunian chappie at the mike. They were previously monikered Promotion, and having heard one or two of their earlier tunes in about '99, I was less than thrilled at that time, but a welcome shortage of stinkers on the set this evening put paid to doubts. Sweden keeping business up again.



A prime shareholder in the melodic rock stock exchange, Dare, fronted by the incredible voice of Darren Wharton, are familiar faces at this event and any length of absence seems too long for the supporting throng present this evening. Opening with 'Silent Thunder' from last album 'Belief', the subsequent portion of the set is purely down to history books, from the Vinny Burns -featuring debut 'Out Of The Silence', up to 97's 'Calm Before The Storm'.

I'm a bit bad at titles with this act but I can tell you that the best songs of the evening included 'Highway to Nowhere', 'Calm...' 'We Were Friends', 'White Horses', 'King Of Spades' (dedicated to Phil Lynott) and encore 'I Can't Remember'. The difference is easy to tell between old and new with earlier stuff bumping and grinding with attitude, whereas the latest material is soft but equally soul-absorbing in its Celtic oriented sentiment, somewhat giving away that certain Dublin outfit that Wharton once marched in the ranks of. Credit also goes out for having a Sheffielder amongst the current Dare line-up - Guitarist, Richard Dews acoustic also apparently in lieu of a bass in the band's current incarnation. Dare, an act welcome back at the Gods any time they wish. Darren once more delivering a Warts n' all performance.




Stan The Man has probably got more reason to be happier than anyone tonight, having stolen the headlining slot from Darren and lads, but at such short notice, but at such short notice has consequently left him little time to prepare a longer set. Kicking off with 'What I've got is Real' from his recent 'Language of the Heart' CD, he wastes little time in telling his admiring patrons how much he's also missed them in the last four years since he last played these shores. Old faves 'Love Don't Lie', 'Gates of Paradise', 'Primitive Lover' and his hit 'Transformers' anthem 'The Touch' all send the crowd little short of mental, and 'Joanna' stands proud amongst the best of his modern day material. Ten songs in and already it's time to wrap it up... Like he thinks he's getting off that lightly! A return for early classic 'All American Boy' manages to pacify particularly those resenting the brief length of his session for this evening. That said, even in the space of 65 minutes, Stan as always managed to transform the day for many.


So one day over. Who can tell what tomorrow brings - though it actually was by now, Stan's set having finished at about 2.15am. Don't go away, now, will you. Back soon.

SUNDAY (Day 2)
After a hearty lunch at a nearby Mcdonalds, it's time to plod my weary way up Manningham Lane for a second morning running - hang on, I'm sure I just said 'plodding' - and find the fellow patrons this time still gathered outside the closed doors. Opening later than advertised due to the cancellation of Hodson's set, the opening position for today is now handed to.....

First thing I notice about these hotly-tipped Dokken-alikes is the hatted rhythm guitarist seen only twelve hours earlier as Stan Bush's bass player - well he had a job there that most people would envy, if you don't count being Stan Bush himself, that is. Together with the other guitarist they make a tough dual act behind the shrill voice provided by Michael 'o Mara. As mentioned earlier, they draw their inspirations from Don and co, but keep the compositions their own. 'Fire In Your Soul' may be a good opening selection, but it's 'Mother Mary, May I'; 'Wrecking Ball' and 'Paradise' which win the respect of their 40-minute run. A Talon-ted bunch indeed. 9/10

I had to feel sorry for Talon's bassist who I learned had had to temporarily disassemble his instrument for the flight over, due to luggage size restrictions that caught him unawares at the airport in America.

The resident completely unknowns of the weekend, Germany's Evidence One make an impact as soon as they take off. Their style is not one, you can file into any single drawer, a brand of balls-laden melodic trad metal being about the nearest I can narrow it. Singer, Carsten has the day's best new voice, a high-pitched range that should please any Priest fans present. Their debut album on its way as I tell you this, I definitely welocme this lot back next year, knowing their material a bit better. 9/10

are the nexx band up.... I mean the next band ... yeah, alright, (ho,ho,ho.) All the way from sunny Spain they come, playing very sunny music to boot, and fronted by Patricia Tapia, a woman whose voice is literally bigger than her - she stands barely taller than Yoda at about 4'8" but as long as I can hear her, that's what counts. With the fortune of already owning their debut album, I am able to know one or two tunes by the time they walk on before our very eyes, thankfully recognising all nine, in the end, including 'Remember', 'Arches Of Faith' and a cover of recent Scarem cut 'Killing Me'. (steady on, love, they've only just recorded it themselves). Another welcome set of an un-welcomingly short length. 8/10

You'd have to feel sorry for anyone being marched onto the stage in a dog collar, but our man from New Jersey seems to have an endless sense of humour, in which this is actually small potatoes. Or is it because he is in England again, one of his favourite countries on his live rounds. Anyway, taking his place centre stage, he treats us to a miniaturized version of his acoustic sets from the previous year's tour, with addition of one or two new inclusions. 'Inherit The Wind', 'Is That All There Is', 'Gandy Dancer', 'Wings', 'Haunted' and 'Lay Your Body Down',mix Danny's two acts past and present, without bias, as usua, and guests are never unexpected on one of this guy's shows, Patricia and guitarist Bernardo from Nexx assisting on 'Last Sunset'. Advertised as an acoustic set, it may have been, but the temptation of playing a couple of faves in full decibel proves too tempting for Danny and audience alike and with help from members of Pride, the perfect end to an always special show is defined. With another full UK jaunt imminent as guest of Bob Catley, who is also only hours away from another potentially stunning Gods slot, Danny Vaughn has had a good head start today. 9/10

The name Burns ring any bells?. Yeah, it's that chap who used to be in Ten, innit? Less than two years since quitting the Manchester Rockers, Vinny Burns has laid dormant for very little or perhaps no time at all. Back with another promising new package and with the support of his usual label, Vin has decided it's time for a change of direction. He may still be friends with Gary and co but the hint I have is the music wants f*** all to do with that of his illustrious ex-cohorts. Quite like Honeymoon Suite, Bon Jovi and Blue Blud between songs, the territory is all too familiar but although I find it hard to be blown away by his new material, it is not too disappointing. Singer Sam Blue who has an interesting history with Vinny, having played with the guitarist in pop legends Ultravox has done himself credit in following the Vinster into this scene, and I hope this reunion proves to be fruitful -not that it already isn't. 7/10

I commit one of my regular crimes of going to McDonalds just before one of the most anticipated acts of the day, and my return to Penningtons is unfortunately slow enough to miss a few minutes of Ken Tamplin's highly-promised performance. Having been warned by the man himself that there will be no Shout material on the set has not exactly filled my heart with gallons of glee, and the only tune included, I already know tonight is 'Radio Bikini' which the Los Angelean is halfway through as I walk in through the door. The solo material does pacify however, and that off the new album, which I've already heard courtesy of the inter-set PAairings, sounds pretty appealing, 'Story Of Love' being the most impressive. Tamplin himself looks the man to watch every minute of the sixty he has with us today, and clad in a head mike, he walks, strums and sings in all directions but never without knowing where he's going. Guitarist Howie Simon, also now with Jeff Scott Soto has been playing with Tamplin for quite some time now and the contract looks far from damaged yet, on assessing his work next to Ken, also an accomplished guitarist himself. A show I can't begin to deny enjoying, Ken Tamplin's first appearance in the UK in over a decade fetched 'em running. However, Ken, you shot yourself in the foot not playing even so much as 'Borderline' from your heyday act and I did talk to one or two other fellow patrons afterwards who admitted to being less than impressed at that. 8/10


Remember a certain Toronto four-piece making their debut in this very room a year back? A Danish four-piece now follow the honour, a year on. Symphonic metal goliaths Royal Hunt are in almost total contrast to anything else on this bill but many of the gathering believers of Great Britain have made it here tonight, and whether it's to see these lads or not, little resentment is apparent.

They rake their entire eleven-year catalogue into the space of seventy-five minutes and pluck up crops from only the finest seeds. Singer, John West is an energy machine of a man himself, prancing to and fro across the stage like a man who couldn't be more proud to be playing in the UK at last, if he'd thought of it, then he should think himself very lucky as his predecessor DC Cooper never had this privilege.

That keyboard king himself, Andre Andersen is the nucleus of the act, but standing up there between two rows of ivories just likes to get on with the job, and let the other four chaps on the boards fulfil stage presence duties. The Hunt are just plainly unbelievable from start to end, with the blend of material from all eras having something in it for everyone, and the melodies fired point-blank at us by West, Andersen and guitarist Jacob Kjaer 'the leftie from Denmark', as J.W. introduces him, see to that personally.

I also might or might not have been the first to notice how the PA is starting to show the strain by this stage -every now and then, one or two of the instruments sounds less audible than should be, and looking at the musicians playing tells me its not them themselves lifting off. Royal Hunt don't seem to worried nor do most of the folk on the floor and as predicted the band stir up so much of a frenzy from across the barriers that by the end, an encore seems inevitable. Royal Hunt repay the crowd's courtesy threefold before taking their last bow and as they disappear behind the closing curtain, I know one band almost guaranteed to be back in 2004



Time to get the best place possible down the front now, for the legend has returned. Bob Catley's last solo appearance was almost two years ago and as always that's almost two years too long in many books. Striding onto the stage, clad in leather trench coat and shades, he kicks off with a couple of numbers from his incredible sounding new 'When Empires Burn' album, which although only his mum Ollie who I have the honour of standing next to in the masses this evening, knows the words to, heats up the crowd from the start.

The heat is turned up well and truly as usual by earlier material. 'Stormcrow and Pilgrim', 'Return Of The Mountain King', 'Dreams', 'Scream', 'Fear of The Dark' and 'The Pain' apply full gas mark and further cuts from 'Empires' sustain the flame. Disappointingly, only TWO Magnum tunes make it onto tonight's selections 'Start Talking Love' and 'Lonely Night', and come the encore, I'm bracing for another, but it's not to be. Coupled by further little peeps of misbehaviour from the PA, I'm not one for finding flaws in any Bob Catley or Magnum set, but it has to happen at times. No such grumbles apply to the work done, musically, by Bob and his band tonight, the guy singing as energetically as ever and Vince o'Regan, Al Barrow, new tune-penner Paul Hodson plus recently recruited drummer Jamie Little, let no sides down in the department. With another chance to see Bob Catley looming only a week or so away, I have been duly rewarded for my wait.



The revered returnees of melodic rock this year, Talisman's appearance at Gods 2003 is not their first UK visit by a long shot. Only two years ago, in fact, had they played a one-off at Liverpool's Cavern Club, but tonight, with a new album to promote, they're back like they mean it. Sporting the classic line-up of Jeff Scott Soto, Marcel Jacob, Frederik Akesson and Jamie Borger, plus new live guitarist, Ken Tamplin's trusted aide Howie Simon himself - I was not expecting this, honest - the band attack with all weapons from the off. Jeff enters the room clad in what looks like some sort of Samurai warrior attire, to the unmistakable opening shred of 'Break Your Chains', one of the greatest tunes they have ever been a part of.

A couple of new numbers seek welcome accommodation in the set list but as is standard for most live shows, it's the oldies that count, and boy do we get 'em. 'Colour My XTC', 'Mysterious', 'Standin' on Fire' and the cover of Seal hit 'Crazy' are worth the trip alone for most. Jeff Scott Soto ever the entertainer, takes time to thank whoever sent him the bottle of wine that he proceeds to pass round his bandmates for a swig but the look on Jacob's face indicates that the glass implement is housing a distinctively less desirable tipple.

Resident singlalong 'Ill be Waiting' has Soto doing just that, as unimpressed with the volume of the crowds participation, he sits down arms folded, by the drumkit, asking them "Shall I just sit here till you're ready, yeah?" but when he gives them a second chance, they show no hesitation in passing the apology due. Further covers featured tonight are a clip of 'Livin' On A Prayer' plus the set-climaxing crack at Ozzy classic 'I Don't know' where the most entertaining moment of the weekend occurs. As the solo commences, Jeff slams his mike stand down and walks away across the stage. The steel vertical teeters back and forth about five times before toppling completely, the device itself breaking away to plunge deep into the photo pit, whilst the singer looks on in despair, even less chuffed when a Tony Marshall (Lead vocalist of 'Contagious' retrieves it and offers the crowd this rather expensive souvenir. Jeff just about sees the funny side but is still eager to finish the show and retakes possession of the wayward mouth piece just in time to hit the final chorus.

As had Stan Bush the previous night, today's headliners only have time to stop around for an hour which I and a lot of fellow attenders alike thought was disgusting after having waited almost an entire day, but Talisman, still the gentlemen, knew what had to be heard in the brevity of this set, and many still went home happy afterwards. Corking stuff, boys, but do try and stop on for longer next time.

Over again for twelve months, but with ideas already spinning round the heads of the Now & Then persona as regarding next year's line-up, it won't be too long before tickets are being booked again. The Gods remains, as always, an important part of this scene and the support of the people who attended over the two days as well as the people who organised it and the 16 bands themselves who took the time to make it happen is of totally undisputable value.

Thanks to Mark Ashton and Bruce Mee once more for putting it together, and to the staff of the Castle Hotel in Bradford - if there's any chance that you may be reading this - thanks for putting up with me again.

Dave Attrill

GODS 2002 - Pennington's, Bradford, Sunday June 2nd 2002

BANDS: Hardline, Ten, Harem Scarem, Eric Martin, Jeff Scott Soto, Honeymoon Suite, Shotgun Symphony, Bailey's Comet, Pulse,

This is the tenth anniversary of an event which has been the pinnacle of Britain's melodic rock scene since 1992. To celebrate, several true titans of the genre have entered the arena, plus a couple of future warriors.

Speaking of legends, I have the honor of bumping into Bob Catley, on the train, on the way up, although this year he is only attending as audience, and to draw the raffle, which is his annual duty at the event.



Quite coincidentally, it's a Birmingham act that open up the day's proceedings. Pulse feature Bob's touring guitarist Vince o'Regan and bassist Al Barrow, the latter now in Magnum, too. Quite where this band's Magnum/Heartland comparisons crop up from is questioned as the language this band's music speaks is more in the tongue of Terra Nova and Van Halen. This is primarily caused by the gravelly vocal range of the bands new singer, who has replaced Simon Abbott - they sound more like a shriek through the output values of the PA stack.

Tunes such as 'Star', 'Talk About Love' and the ultra Halen-esque onslaught of 'Inspiration' the band's best tune so far written, slay with the best of 'em. Here is definitely the start of the next promising career in British Hard Rock, rising like a phoenix as we talk. A support slot with a major act - what about Def Leppard when they next tour the island - is a recommended pathway to recognition. Get some more money in the kitty lads, it's your call.




A little over a month since I'd last seen them in their native Sheffield and here we go again - albeit in Bradford this time, Des and Co have earned themselves a show in a decent sized venue, for their troubles. It's virtually the same set as on their recent UK tour, though trimmed down by about a third. What they have to cut down in length though, they certainly don't in musical quality as they have chosen the perfect components for a 55-minute set, and assembled as devastating a machine as they did those weeks back at the Boardwalk.

'Judgement Day', 'Spirit Of Toumohai' and 'One Love One Life' are still the Thin Lizzy -bred belters they they've been since I first set ear on them and the Blue Murder and Black Sabbath covers are still worthy parts for regular utilization. What I like in particular about Des Bailey, is that he takes pleasure in telling us the names of the songs they've opened with so the uneducated don't miss out on anything there. And he mentions the excellent album, namely 'Judgement Day', that they're off, too. Which I hope should encourage a few (hundred) more to check the said disc out.

Tony Martin, thankfully, no longer needs to have a lyric sheet with him on stage - bet that was embarrassing on that first UK trek he did with them. His talents on the electric fiddle remain remarkable. Bailey's Comet continue to soar high through the sky with this latest performance.




In all embarrassment, I have to confess to not actually owning any albums by New Jersey's Shotgun Symphony but having heard a fair collection of their cracking tunes over years gone by, amends will hopefully be made shortly. Prompting my instincts even further in this direction is the fact that tonight, the band are playing their last ever show before they diverge for pastures new. Enter the five-piece and a very special hour begins as Messrs White, Calv and co give us the songs they'd like to be remembered for, including a couple or so off the new album. One of such tracks, 'Highway Till tomorrow' has to be one of the very best songs I've heard from S.S. with 'Believe In Me' bubbling just under.

Not too many perfectly dry looking eyes amongst the more veteran fans in attendance this afternoon. Some I talk to, even remember the band's support slot with Tyketto over here, years ago. They were one of the US melodic rock scene's most loyally followed acts and I hope that Tracy White and Charlie Calv in particular find themselves a good home (musically) to go to from here, 'cos they are two talented geezers, as are the other three lads. In fact Shotgun Symphony's legacy should remain strong enough for them to reunite again, one later day in this life.


1990 - 2002



And so Begins the Canadian contingent of today's proceedings, and of the country's four leading melodic rock rocks, all of whom have played over here this year, here or at the Z-Rock show, Honeymoon Suite, it has to be said are easily the most prolific of the lot. The Ontario quintet have now clocked up 20 years in the business and although only Johnnie Dee and Derry Grehan remain from the band's formative days, their pure silky pop metal still merits them deserved attention. The Suit are also, lest you forget, the biggest selling act ever to have graced the Gods festival, with classic discs 'S/T', 'Big Prize', 'Racing After Midnight' and 'Monsters Under The Bed' hitting gold and multi-platinum sales and several top twenty singles in Canada and the US including a No1 position in their native land.

All the greatest nuggets are found in the mine tonight, with 'Bad 'Attitude', 'New Girl Now', 'All Along You Knew', 'Say You Don't Know Me', 'Looking Out For Number One' and aforementioned Canadian top-spotter 'What Does It Take' whilst 'Feel It Again' wins the set for me. New album track 'What I Know' is, as some might expect, a grungy number but I still enjoy it with its attachment to a melodic rock under-structure, allowing it to be different without betraying their followers too badly.

Johnnie Dee has a voice that has not withered so much as even a speck over the years, his delivery not disappointing anyone in attendance today. A sometime guitar-playing front-man, he does have a strange but interesting habit of strapping on his instrument halfway through the tune. The guitarist of the band though, and has to be of the day too, is Derry Grehan whose performance matures in equal measures to Dee's vocal workings and he's not afraid to experiment either - during his solo spot he takes the guitar off and lays it on a table top and proceeds to shred like a b**t**d as only he knows how. A wizard if ever there was one.

Pete Lesperance, Mladen and Jeff Waters stil have some serious competition in the Canadian guitar genius stakes. Completing the current line-up, new boys Breet Carrigan, Rob Laidlaw and Peter Nunn have just found themselves on a ship with two illustrious captains, which I hope starts sailing towards British shores more often again in the future. Honeymoon Suite have laid down today's gauntlet, the challenge is waiting to be accepted.




Another moment that many have waited the whole afternoon for, finally dawns on the masses. It's rather hard to commonly associate Jeff Scott Soto with any one band in particular as his CV accounting for 1981-present reads for miles and about 12 different acts. The American plays his first ever show as a solo artist tonight and although he has an album of same criteria in the pipeline, it's the past more than the future that the public want to wallow in, tonight. Yngwie Malmsteen, Talisman, Takara and Humanimal are the band names on most minds but he throws in plenty from all round his roster.

He has even got Gary Schutt on bass and ex-Ken Tamplin guitarist Howie Simon, who despite having never played previously with J.S.S, is immediately welcomed as the latest member of this family tree. And as if it can't get any better, who's that who should walk on stage mid-gig but none other than Jeff's old mucker, himself, Pontus Norgren and the Swedish six-string maestro joins in for a cover of a fave from the Humanimal disc, which both those two chaps are proudly associated with the recording of. We'd heard this song performed in our presence only a month earlier so it makes this treat all the more special. There is one bone to pick however, Mr Scott Soto. Instead of playing a full blast electric version of that excellent tune that goes by the name of 'Mysterious - This Time It's Serious', you decide to cram about a minute-long snippet of it into an acoustic medley.

I may be more than chuffed with the hammering renditions of 'Break Your Chains' and 'I'll Be Waiting' but I was really looking forward to that other aforementioned number in all its gut-booting glory. Next time, perhaps? And what of the man's newly penned solo produce. Great material, Jeff, very much like most of the splendid nineties outfits you've put your name to, especially Talisman, and I hope the album is as storming as anticipated. Make your own minds up but tonight, virtually no-one was disappointed with this guy's set bar a minor gripe of mine and I see a good few new Jeff Scott Soto fans being made tonight.




A face from the past if there was one. And a band from the past to boot. Eric Martin is the latest to sign to Frontiers at the time of this event and I bet it's just an excuse to get another old fave some notice with the aid of a modern day label. Only kidding Eric, we know you are doing it for the right reasons. The Mr Big frontman is back with the Eric Martin Band tonight, with whom he made his name back in the Eighties. I'd say he's changed a bit since then. Gone is the long hair, waistcoat and the tuxedo. He also plays guitar regularly, now unlike in his other illustrious act. So, do we get any Mr Big tonight? Sadly just about none.

His own material, through at times a tad unexciting is for the larger duration decent stuff, and the band's musicianship on the whole leaves nothing behind. Some of the material does march into Sheehan/Gilbert/Torpey territory more often than once which keeps the audience on their toes but veteran fans lap up the show in general. Jeff Scott Soto and Bob Catley join Martin at the end for that old classic 'To Be With You', still as much a sing-a-long hit, ten years on. Not a bad set at all though some parts didn't light much fire for me, but knowing me, by the next time I've seen this guy play, I'll probably be rooting for his return.



We've had Von Groove, we've had Honeymoon Suite, we've even had Brighton-bleedin'- Rock all over here this year and we now have the final to complete Canada's quintessential quartet. Harem Scarem perform live in front of a British audience for the first time ever, tonight, and it's plain from the intensity of high-octane opener 'Change Comes Around' this evening is one they're going to make every bit worth the decade or so's wait. As with a lot of the acts on today, they opt for a blend of everything they've got, although there are a lot of numbers from newie 'Weight Of The World'. 'All I Want Is Everything' and 'Killing Me' are my faves of such played tonight, but they opt not to give the magnificent title track a run - one of two criminal omissions we suffer throughout the night's proceedings. There's a couple from the classic 'S/T' first album which makes me all the more depressed for not owning a copy, and the sole selection from the controversially different-styled 'Voice Of Reason' disc, is actually a decent tune, I'll have you know, despite that booing emanating from the gathering, making you believe otherwise. The stuff from the two 'Rubber' albums is actually better than I've heard it said to be, coming over like a more lightweight predecessor to the 'W.O.T.W' material. Frontman Harry Hess introduces one number as being 'Cow Metal' though the tune imminent at the time has no significantly 'western' style to speak of. The lads end the night with 'No Justice' -the second of only two songs played from the legendary 'Mood Swings' disc, and although their loyal followers subsequently cheer with all their might for a further encore, which should have been the ubiquitous 'Saviours Never Cry' it's all in vain. Now I'd have to be fair and say they should lose a point each for those two songs they VERY NAUGHTILY failed to include on today's set. But, as I'm a Scarem-ite and a gentleman, I shall just deduct half a mark either case fro what has been an otherwise phenomenal first show over here for Vancouver's finest and I hope a full tour is somewhere close behind.




Back, and fully recovered from the pain of parting with guitar king Vinny Burns, Ten have managed to maintain their credibility on the talents of new man Chris Francis, after all the doubts. Having headlined this show almost routinely over the last six years, it's a bit of a surprise to see them now pushed down to only second on the bill this time - but to Hardline, of course and any placement on the same bill as Gioelli and co will do nicely for most. Opening up in their usual fast fashion with 'feel The Force' accompanied by a barrage of fireworks (first time they've been used at the Gods) a package of only the very best the Mancunian six-piece has to offer, is… offered. 'The Robe', 'After The Love Is Gone', 'Spellbound', 'Stranger' and the all-powerful 'Name Of The Rose' are but five we heard during one of the band's finest hour-and-a-halves on the face of this earth. We get about three from the excellent latest record 'Far Beyond The World', sadly not including 'Glimmer Of Evil' amongst the bunch. The other notable inclusion is current keyboardsman Paul Hodson who's recorded with Hard Rain and Bob Catley's solo band over the last five years and now fills a well earned spot in the Ten ranks previously occupied by the legendary Don Airey and before that, Ged Rylands. The band finish their evening's fun as only they would know how with 'Red', the pounding Celtic battle anthem from the 'Spellbound' CD, which the crowd acknowledge with some obligatory pogo-ing down the front. There they go, then, Gary Hughes and the boys knowing they've delivered another set that's far beyond the world, and barely scratching the surrounding planets at that.



They're here. They're here. They're f***ing here. But Johnny and Joey Gioelli and the new line-up that are know collectively as Hardline have just walked onto this very stage here in Bradford. Oh yes the line-up, the line-up. Filling Neal Schon'.'s boots is revered Storm/Two Fires six-stringer Josh Ramos, and former Vinnie Vincent Invasion drummer Bobby Rock has taken up Deen Castranovo's old job. Where Todd Jensen once would have stood, Chris Maloney now operates the big mean four-stringed machine. The LA five-piece have also swelled into a nine-piece since last time with the addition of keyboardsman Michael Ross and and two gorgeous gals and a geezer on backing vocals.

And as for the set? Fan-tas-tic! They start as partially predicted with 'Hot Cherie' and before you know it 'Everything' and 'Life's A Bitch' have come and bleedin' well gone, also. 'I'll Be there', 'In The Hands Of Time', 'Taking Me Down' and the band's all-time out-and-out belter, 'Rhythm From A Red Car' follow in flawless form but intertwined with these old classics, we mustn't forget their current compositions, too. 'Only a Night', the acoustic stunner heard on a fair few sampler CDs over the last twelve months is tonight an electric full-tempo rocker but it still delivers the full parcel.

'Face the Night' rocks in matching measures and 'Weight' showcases the band's newer musical direction, sounding definitely more a song of 2002 than 1992 - strictly NO dissage of 'Double Eclipse' intended whatsoever by this observation. Johnny Gioelli states the somewhat obvious during a chosen moment during the set. "Ten years, that's too long, now, ain't it". Too effin' right it is, matey. The last time H.L. were over here was late '92 's tour with Extreme. And for those heartbroken at missing it the first time around, the final song of the night, in fact of the whole bleedin' day, could not be more well chosen than… you guessed it, 'Dr Love'. Ten year indeed. Making us wait ten months seems like torture nowadays when it comes to material of this prestigious quality.

Now to be honest, they nearly deserve to lose a point for the rather short duration of their set, a crime recently witnessed committed by Dokken at another venue in this very same West Yorkshire city but going on their musical performance - especially the Gioellis and Ramos. That they didn't lie about playing a longer set than they were to, that they chose what many think are the best eight songs from that first album, and for the new stuff impressing me straight from the off, I shall leave them alone to enjoy the full award let's hope that we don't have to wait another decade to savour such a privilege.


The gods 2002 then. Today, we witnessed the ultimate gathering of legends in a rock genre that just needs a boost of this kind to enable its resurgence in the mainstream popularity circles. Thanks go out to all the people who made it possible, especially Mark Ashton and Bruce Mee at Frontiers, the label beyond the event, to all nine bands, (especially Bailey's Comet for representing Sheffield at the event - cheers Des) and to the management of Castle hotel for putting up with me and the other Gods-going guests for a couple of nights (if you're reading this, many thanks and expect my custom again, in a years time). And to all the people who turned up to support the scene…. You (and your money) made it possible.

Dave Attrill

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