Dianno – Royal Standard, Walthamstow – HOWARD JOHNSON

THERE WAS no straw strewn across the floor, there were no horses tied up outside this particular hostelry, there were no buxom wenches serving ale to weary journeymen, but there was still no doubting that the ‘roughly hewn stable boy charm’ of Paul Di’Anno was back to tread the boards-with no little amount of energy, either!

“Nah, we ain’t doin’ any f'”kin’ Iron Maiden songs!” laughed the mainman between numbers, obviously aware that the Standard was enjoying its busiest night in a good while on the strength of his reputation, But that was probably a good thing in itself!

It’s astounding to see the lumbering frame of Di’Anno, distinctly larger and balder on top than during ‘Ssshh, you know who days, commanding a sophisti-rock troupe such as this with considerable aplomb. After all, it’s not as if Paul is setting new vocal standards; it’s not as if he’s a Mike Monroe in the visual presentation area, but for some inexplicable reason everything gels in Di’Anno and the whole shebang works!

Now, it has to be said that Di’Anno’s bag will hardly have you reaching for the squash racket, but having witnessed Blind Fury’s onslaught dissecting my head at this very venue recently, I know which side I’m on in this particular battle! Di’Anno could certainly benefit from a tougher edge in the twin guitars of Lee Slater and PJ Ward, but they do indeed have the songs there to provide more than hope. Virtually all of Di’Anno’s debut album was aired and the material on offer was indeed tasty stuff – late Seventies US Hard Rock riding purposefully on Mark Venables’ tasteful keys.

‘Heartuser’ , ‘Tales Of The Unexpected’, ‘Road Rat’ (“A bit of ‘eavy Metal for ya,” quoth Paul, somewhat sardonically!), everything came over as pretty convincing and, above all, enjoyable. However, what could perhaps halt the progress of Di’Anno is that the niche for new acts within this area seems to be diminishing. We’re not talking wild make-up, meat throwing antics and general debauchery here – and the question that remains at the end of a most enjoyable gig is whether ‘enjoyable’ is good enough? I However, I’m keeping my fingers’n footsies crossed for’ em!

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