The Gods of Rock

Maximes, Wigan

21 November 1999

On to Sunday. A lot of VERY hung-over looking fans assembled slowly between the hours of 12 and 1 on Sunday... trust me, it's a sight you don't want to see. Most of them looked worse than I felt, and that's REALLY scary.

In general, Sunday's line-up was better than the Saturday's. Saturday had the best good acts, but Sunday had the best bad acts, if you see what I mean. What I mean is, there were no acts I really hated on Sunday. The standard was generally higher.

Ok, Sunday's 9 bands, in order:

Tickyboo Peep

Yes really. Honestly. They were actually very good, I liked them. Just average 80s middle-of-the-road. This was apparently only their second gig ever, which made them even more impressive. Luckily they didn't have a CD on sale, because I would have been embarrassed to own a CD by a band called Tickyboo Peep (it's bad enough that it's on my t-shirt).


From Florida. To be honest, I can't remember much about them. Pretty standard American rock, but I remember enjoying them. Better than the early bands on Saturday, anyway.

The Promise

From Glasgow. Good sort of progressive/melodic rock stuff. They confessed that their keyboard player quit 2 weeks ago so they were playing with a backing tape. I liked them. Didn't buy their CDs though.

Johnny Lima

Johnny who? Johnny Fuckin' Lima, that's who! (He said we had to tell people that).

Oh my god, this man was Mister Ego. American, from Noo Joisey I think he said, and he's really glad to be in England because yoo guys rawk. He's gonna go back to the United States and say America, yoo guys suck. In England, they rawk. Quite.

Well I thought I was going to hate him because of the ego andthe posing and the bleached-blond perm, but actually he was good. Sort of like Motley Crew, but with better songs. And even the posturing attitude worked. It was crass and over the top, but it fitted the music. He really worked well with the crowd, had a good singalong, had a girls versus boys singalong (boys won but there were three times the amount of us), got a punter out of the front row up on stage for "karaoke" (singing the woa-oo woa-oo bits). He was really good (Johnny Lima, not the audience-guy). So I bought his CD. It's exceptionally good, and I revised my opinion of him: not Motley Crew, Jon Bon Jovi. Without quite the same quality of songs, but still very good. He plays ALL the instruments on the album. I want to buy his other CD if I can find it. And I would go to see him again live.

Stuart Smith

This was the main man I wanted to see on Sunday. He's been talked about a lot on He's from York, but based in Los Angeles and his band is American. And he plays the guitar. Brilliantly. Beyond brilliant. Genius. Best guitar player there. This is the first time I ever heard him and he's already one of my favourite ever guitar players.

Did I mention that he was taught by Ritchie Blackmore? Aha...

He only did a 50 minute set. I wish it was twice as long. I want to see him again. It would have been worth the entire trip just to see him. I got his CD on Saturday (I knew I wanted it before I even saw him) and it's probably the best CD of the year — and yes I'm including Bob's new one AND Deep Purple's "Total Abandon" in that (I think).

He mostly played his own songs, which I didn't know but which sounded very good. Not just for the flashy guitar parts, they were actually good compositions and he had a good solid backing band, But I was there to hear him play guitar... He played Purple's When a Blind Man Cries. Close you eyes... and it's Ritchie Blackmore. Seriously. I mean that. Same unique tone. Same twiddly notes, same playing too many notes together, same use of tremolo... just so beautiful, I cried all the way through it. Then he played Speed King and it was sooo good and fast and dynamic and visually he's like Ritchie too, like the old Ritchie, with the flash and energy and swinging his guitar around and playing with assorted body parts and riffs and solos just like Ritchie and I just felt so funny... I thought, I'm never going to see Ritchie play like this again. I may never see Ritchie play again at all. It was kind of sad... Stuart Smith isn't Ritchie, but he's very very good and probably the next best thing. I hope he doesn't stay in Los Angeles.

I'll do a proper album review anon...

Emerald Rain

I was a bit disappointed with Emerald Rain. I didn't think their show was as good as when I saw them in February. Their new songs didn't sound as good as those on the first CD either. I bought the new CD but after the first listen I don't like it as much as the first. Maybe it will grow on me.

Oh well, a bit disappointing but considering I had already had my money's worth from the rest of the bands I wasn't too bothered.

Stan Bush

I never heard of this guy before, but the crowd all seemed to know him.

He's good. Sings, plays guitar, writes all his own songs. Very Bryan Adams sort of style. Imagine Bryan Adams without the keyboardy-ballads but with a MUCH better voice.

He was backed by Dante Fox (I guess it's cheaper than bringing a band over from America) and I was very impressed that they had learned all his songs for (presumably) just one performance. If anything, I was more impressed by the Dante Fox guitar player on these songs than I was on their own songs (and he was certainly good enough then).

Anyway, Stan Bush rocks. I like him so much, I bought the album. A great show. He's also on my list of people I would see again.


Ten was the other disappointment of the night. They were ok, but they were not great. Considering Gary Hughes wrote the songs for Bob Catley's solo albums, and Vinney Burns played guitar on them, and they are top of the bill, I really expected great things from them. As it was, I liked half their set and disliked (I almost typed "hated" but that's a bit strong) the other half. Half is like Magnum-inspired pomp-rock. The other half gets a bit too thrashy. So I'm undecided. I didn't buy any of their CDs.

Surprise of the weekend - Don Airey is their new keyboard player. THE Don Airey. Of Rainbow, Cozy Powell, Gary Moore, Alaska, Marsden/Moody, etc. Don Airey who's played with everybody who's anybody. Unfortunately he doesn't get much chance to shine. Maybe because he's the new man in the band, or maybe because the songs are written to show off Vinney Burns (who is VERY good). I don't know. But I know he's better than he came across on Sunday.

And that's it. A humongously draining weekend. I am DEFINITELY too old for that sort of thing. I'm going back next year.