The Rock Temple, Kerkrade, The Netherlands November 27th
Graham Bonnet played in 1980 two shows with Rainbow in The Netherlands. On February 2nd Rainbow played the Ahoy Sportpaleis in Rotterdam, followed a day later by a concert in the Roda Hall in Kerkrade. Two and a half years ago Graham returned to Rotterdam for a performance in the Classics in Rock event. And today he returns to the other Dutch city that was on Rainbow's 1980 Tour Schedule.
Our journey to Kerkrade in the south of Holland starts early in the morning. Ludy (the promoter) has arranged an interview for us with Graham Bonnet and it will take place early in the early afternoon. After a long journey we get around one o'clock in Kerkrade. The interview will take place at RTV Parkstad Studios. The Radio and TV Station is located in the Roda JC Football Club Stadion.
Graham Bonnet arrives about an hour later. First Dutch major metal magazine Aardschok has an interview with the singer. Then it's our turn. We're told that Graham has said on his way to this location he was hoping not to get too many questions about things that happened 30 years ago because he don't remember that much of that period. So we decide to skip some of the questions that has been send in on the fanclan forum. Let's face it, I can answer these myself as some are very obvious.
We only get about half an hour for the interview. Graham is in a good and talkative mood. He tells he's tired because he already woke up at four in the morning. Still he's witty, sings some lines of songs he's talkin' about and it's good fun to talk with him. When we're told time is up we can shoot quickly some photos. But not before Graham puts his sunglasses on.
Then it's time for Graham to do a short interview for the Radio Parkstad. After that Ludy invite us to come with him and Graham to go to The Rock Temple so we can see the soundcheck. On the way Graham inform if there's a local musicshop because after this show they have four days off and he's bored to death watching CNN. He wants to buy a guitar so he can try and write some new songs.
The Rock Temple is only about a five minutes drive away from the RTV Parkstad Studios. The rest of Alcatrazz plus the support act Bad Dog Bites already have arrived in the venue.
The band is setting up their equipment. Graham leaves to get to the music instrument store. He returns half an hour later with a new acoustic guitar. He shows it proud to the rest of the band.
Guitarplayer Howie Simon, bassplayer Tim Luce and drummer Dave Dzialak are busy in the mean time to get the right sound. Howie tell he wants to eat a lil' earlier than the schedule. After the sound has been approved there are some songs played. First they kick into "Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live". The sound is big and Graham shows he still has a very powerful voice.
It's good to see and hear the singer back on stage. Graham want some more high sound on his in-ear because "he already does this kinda thing for 2000 years". The sphere on stage is good.
The 2nd song in the soundcheck is "Kree Nakoorie". It's Howie who seems to be the one who has the most to tell about the sound and the rest. He tells they don't want stroboscope lights and smoke. He ads: "Well allright, you can do some smoke when we start but no more". Dave asks us if it sounded alright. We only can approve.
Howie plays guitar while walking around in the venue and listning to the sound near the sounddesk. The guy at the sounddesk asks Howie "Can I ask you to use a little bit less volume". He replies: "Yes, you can ask", followed by a silence and then with a big smile on his face "But it's not going to happen".
Tim Luce sets up the merchandise stand. The choice is limited. The t-shirts have the Alcatrazz featuring Graham Bonnet logo and they are only in Large size. The Medium and Xtra Large are crossed out because they already are sold out.
There are 4 CD's for sale: "The Day I Went Mad", "Underground" and the two recently re-releases of the self titled Graham Bonnet solo album (from 1977) and the follow-up "No Bad Habits" (from 1978).
Support-act Bad Dog Bites also do a short soundcheck and then it's time to have a meal. After that both bands choose to go back to the hotel. There's a few hours to kill. We stay and enjoy the hospitality of the crew in the Rock Temple. The venue is not a real big one. The stage is a pretty small and has no real PA, but they have excellent equipment to provide good sound and lights. The venue is quite deep and can hold some 300 visitors.
Still despite it's not a huge venue it's very cozy and has a great atmosphere. There are many good rockbands who perform there. Recently bands like Y&T, Tesla, Michael Schenker, Wishbone Ash and Joe Stump played the Rock Temple. And the week after Alcatrazz for example Jorn Lande and Molly Hatchet will do a concert here. I wish I had a place like this in my hometown.
At 19.30 hours the door open. One hour later the support-act get on stage. Bad Dog Bites is alright as support-act. The band comes from Germany and plays pure rock'n'roll with some sleaze elements. Their sound has a bit of Guns'n'Roses and a touch of Motley Crue and Poison. They get some 35 minutes of playtime.
Alcatrazz kicks off just before 22.00 hours with "Eyes Of The World". What a way to start the show. Keyboards are provided tonight from tape. Graham shows off right from the start with his powerfull voice. It's clear he's in much better shape than the last time he was in the Netherlands two and a half years ago.
Next up is "Too Young To Die, Too Drunk To Live" from the first Alcatrazz LP "No Parole From Rock'n'Roll".
The first Alcatrazz album that featured Yngwie Malmsteen on guitar has a big part in tonight's gig. Howie Simon don't have any problems to play all the Yngwie stuff as well as the other axe heroes stuff that are on the setlist. He proves he's an excellent guitarist. Another one on the long list of great axemen Graham has been working with.
"Big Foot", "Jet To Jet", Kree Nakoorie", "Hiroshima Mon Amour" and "Island In The Sun" are all from the Alcatrazz debut album and played live tonight. The second Alcatrazz LP "Disturbing The Peace" only see two songs in the set; "God Blessed Video" and the excellent "Will You Be Home Tonight".
Whether it's Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, Steve Vai or Chris Impelletteri guitar parts, Howie plays them all very well. He also takes care together with bassplayer Tim Luce of the backing vocals.
The bassplayer is breaking one of the strings of his bass guitar early in the set. No substitute instrument is on hand so what do you do? You just play the songs on 3 strings only. That's what Tim does. Graham makes a lot of jokes about it.
When they get to "Kree Nakoorie" Graham jokes Tim should not only change his bass but his trousers too. Because of the problems with the bass there's some time to fill.
Graham tell the known news of the last few days on Ronnie James Dio.
He mention "Ronnie is one of the greatest singers in rock and we wish him all very well. We hope to see him very soon again. I would like to have him here tonight and say: hello Ron, c'mon let's sing a song together".
"Kree Nakoorie" has a fine guitarsolo by Howie. Graham sits down on the drumstage while the song goes into another superb track of "No Parole". It's "Hiroshima Mon Amour". Graham makes the V sign at the end before kneeling down on stage. The man shows some great hand gestures during the songs which make the show more special.
Before they get into "Will You Be Home Tonight" Tim finally changes instruments. He'll use the Epiphone Thunderbird bass of the Bad Dog Bites bassist for the rest of the gig.
From Graham's other efforts out of Rainbow and Alcatrazz days we get Stand In Line" (Impelletteri) and "Desert Song" (Michael Schenker Group). The last one includes a short drumsolo by Dave Dzialak.
In "Island In The Sun" we get to see another of the gestures when Graham does as if he's writing on the wall. The show ends like it got started. It's time for some more Rainbow songs from the "Down To Earth" album.
First there's the last song of the set. It's "All Night Long" and time to sing along for the audience.
Graham is joking around with Howie, sings with people in the audience and shouts one more time his lungs out of his life.
The encore has two songs, both from the Rainbow album Graham was the vocalist on. Graham announces the first song as a nice soft song, something sweet and cheerfull. When Tim is tuning his bass Graham ads this is called "Tuning in", one of my favorites... it's on the album to be, it's really lost in eh.... Howie starts the wellknown riff to "Since You Been Gone". The audience sings along again with Graham and the rest of the band.
The show ends with a rockin' version of "Lost in Hollywood". The band rocks one more time together with the audience to end this fine show. Graham thanks the audience and says it has been real fun tonight. Exactly our thoughts.
We have seen a good show that took about 80 minutes tonight. Graham still sings and shouts his songs in the same key. Remarkable power, sometimes he struggles but he doesn't give up. Also the witty humor is still present. He jokes with his bandmembers and audience. His band is pretty good, Howie is an excellent axeman, Tim a good bassplayer and fine singer as well and Dave is a very powerful drummer. After the show the band take time to talk with the fans, autograph old albums and other stuff.
Special Thanks to: Ludy and all the crew of Eternal Rock & The Rock Temple.