CHARGER – Dingwalls, London

CHARGER PLAYED their first London gig to a small and somewhat varied audience. The band that hail from Yorkshire, clad in soldier type jackets, tried with some success to charge the mixed bunch with their music. The first number, which is also their present release, showed the band for what they really are, a hardcore British rock band.

In a 25-minute set it is difficult, to say the least, for any group of guys to show what they can really do, but Baz Cummins, on guitar, is a skilled and talented musician, although he looked more like he works in a bank. A number performed by the guys titled ‘Tiger’ did not receive the roar I imagine the lads would have liked, but in my opinion it was their best one, well put together and well presented.

Drummer Steve Hall totally alienated himself from the audience which was his downfall; he seemed to forget that he was actually playing a live gig. The bass work from Colin Bell, however, was excellent. Bell, who is also lead vocalist, has a raw rough sound which complements Charger’s style of rock.

I did enjoy the set, but can’t say that I really got a buzz from the band.




PANAMA – Wellington, Shepherds Bush, London

PANAMA, DESPITE the Van Halen-esque moniker, are a substantial hard rock band every inch the younger and fitter brother of, say, Dio or Iron Maiden (not as ‘eavy). With a sense of the epic, big stage, five band members and lotsa lights, they chomped and chewed their way through an hour or so of my precious time without making me wish I was somewhere else. A major factor in Panama’s favour, then, the ability to entertain and hold one’s eye. Oh, and they also happen to have a stack of bloody good songs.

Pulling out the binoculars for a moment it didn’t take me long to recognise that ex-Airrace man Toby Saddler was grappling with the biggest bass I’d seen all week and hey, isn’t drummer Graeme Crallan the same geezer who was once a member of long lost Wimpwire favou rites White Spirit? Yup, but even their relative experience didn’t for a moment threaten to overshadow the colossal might of superhuman vocalist Tony something or other.

So what about the songs? Built on firm riffs, blasted out by two exotic guitar swinging henchmen, each toon, thank heaven, had a slow beginning, a Kerrunching middle and catastrophic finale. Well constructed, superbly arranged and stuffed full of hip swaying melody, I didn’t spot one duffer amongst the lot and made a special note of ‘Loser’, ‘Painted Lady’ and ‘Cold Hearts’ which despite the tacky titles had me grappling furiously with an imaginary Stratocaster.

A good show all right and I’m gonna be checking those Shrapnel pages very carefully for upcoming tour dates because this is one band I certainly don’t want to turn my snotty nose up at any more.




WILD! – Royal Standard, Walthamstow

TONIGHT IS a tragedy. Tonight Wild! sunk low and they know it. Tonight potential died on its feet and it’s not a pretty sight.

Unfortunate as it is, mildly Wild! are not yet a live band. Sure, they play on a stage but then so do strippers. Wild!, and vocalist Nikki Brookes in particular, are still impressed with a stage. They still treat it with respect. When you play to an audience of 18 it’s no use playing Rock ‘n’ Roll stars. It fools no-one.

Nikki Brookes is an experienced lady. She can sing to wake the dead but tonight she is out of context and out on her own. The between-song banter is embarrassing and the band know it. They kick with muscle before Nikki’s finished reading her cue-cards and sipping cider, cruelly cutting short the chat.

There’s a table of four in front of me. Boys and girls, friends of Nikki. She could have used the ten-feet gap between table and stage to scream in the faces of her friends. She could have crossed that divide and made tonight happen for those of us that bothered to turn out. Instead she winks at her friends and giggles like a Silly rock doll in spandex and scarves.

They have the material. ‘Don’t Look Back’ and ‘Starlight’ have true potential in the Big Boy Rock league, but tonight they fall flat on deaf ears. You may even have heard the Radio One sessions. They’ve been played twice.

Dave Wild exchanges lovers’ looks with Nikki and battles on with the show. He’s a fine player. Even on his back having tripped arse-over-tit. He should ditch the nut-crushing, purple-stretch strides and think about his songs. Forget about Steve Vai. Forget about Richie Sambora. Think Prince.

Wild! may just be too late for this bandwagon. They need humility and they need a serious re-think on their presentation. They don’t need the embarrassment of being refused an encore.

Nobody cheers. Nobody cries. There isn’t even any laughter. There is no reaction and that is sad. For a capable mainstream rock act to suffer the indignity of total indifference is to know the pits.

I’m sorry.




PADDY GOES TO HOLLYHEAD: The Greyhound, Fulham

However, all was not lost and onstage walked Danny Hynes, the vocalist for Paddy Goes To Hollyhead. Danny, ex-Weapon, looking brilliant as usual, was joined by guitarists Mal McNulty and Andy Scott, still sounding ‘Sweet’, and the brilliant Bruce Bisland on drums with Jeff Brown on bass, both ex-Statetrooper. The evening really began to swing and the greatest appeal the Paddies have is that onstage they really do enjoy themselves, and this rubs off onto the crowd.

Danny was in excellent voice and along with the rest of the band got their excellent performance off to a really good start, Any set that includes an Abba number and still keeps the audience rocking must be good.




JOKERS WILD, Greyhound, Fulham

LETS HEAR it for the little guys! Yeah, Jokers Wild are the kind of home-loving melodic rock band that make you feel as entertained as, say, Bon Jovi or Survivor do, Theirs is a class sound with highly effective blobs of angly melody and wicked amounts of raw energy. But hey, don’t go crying to mummy about how this is yet another British rock band trying to muscle their way onto the AOR gravy train. Oh no, Jokers Wild have got far more suss than to let that happen.

Like FM but unlike, say, Terraplane, what Jokers Wild have got going for them are great songs and a great vocalist. Stewing up a nice little hotch potch of brazen hard rock bravado and silky smooth schmaltz, the band played something in the region of fifteen or so songs without managing to bore. They even went so far as to keep me well away from the bar, not that it was particularly crowded you understand (the other punters were glued to the stage like me!) it just seemed like bad second choice!

Band leader and hot shot guitar player Robin Yates has, after quite a few false starts, finally assembled an ideal line-up for a band whose heritage I seem to recall stretches way back to the early ‘8Os (maybe even the late ‘70s!). They look good with neat stage clothes, not overtly ritzy in the Tigertailz mad cap fashion or unduly dull like the dismal clobber worn by Little Angels, just neat and kind of straight to the point.

The vocalist, whose name I can’t quite remember although a dicky bird whispered to me that he used to be in Bronze (after Max Bacon left), has a fantastic voice full of the gusto peddled by such luminaries as Joe Lynn Turner and Lou Gramm, but let’s get him teamed up with a tailor or two.

Plenty of high-grade songs to groove on down to, including a swell rendition of their recently released single ‘Don’t Fall In Love’, which had a few punters including yours truly falling over themselves in an effort to lend a wind pipe or two to the chorus. Neat keyboard touches and some fabulous and, let’s not beat around the bush here. sensitive drumming puts this song into a class of its own, beating the recorded version by a mile. Ditto their next single, finance pending. ‘The Simple Life’.

Yeah, it’s no secret that I’ve already pencilled this lot in for bigger and more impressive things. Given the right backing, some more prestigious gig supports and a record deal (indie or major, though I’d opt for the former at this stage), Jokers Wild will have little trouble attaining the heights reached by a multitude of similar acts and further to eventual stardom.

The seed of success has been sowed, so let’s cultivate the bugger.




IRON HEART: ‘Runninq Away’ (Listen Records) – singles reviewed by Chris Welch

Ambitious debut 12-inch single from a Reading-based band that sounds more sophisticated than the cover shot (which shows a man about to shoot himself in the mouth) would suggest. A semi classical keyboard introduction paves the way for a fairly driving performance that shows the band have plenty of potential.



ARAGON: ‘Break It Up’ (Cassette) – singles reviewed by Chris Welch

Very workmanlike, solid power rock from a Sussex-based outfit, who have been somewhat influenced by the mighty Megadeth in their use of grinding, angry guitar riffs. Not a bad model and it means they have a good base to work from as they develop their careers. Good luck lads,



ASLAN – LOVING ME LATELY (EMI) – Review by Chris Welch

Highly rated newcomers from Ireland who sound like they mean business with a performance that is probably a shade too fast for radio plays. Apparently, scientific research has shown millions tune out when the rhythmic pulse becomes too frantic. Pity, because I find this all rather exciting, with its shouting, bawling, hammering and bashing. Uh oh – I just heard, Wireless Telegraphy House have given it the thumbs down.




Their debut Marquee slot and, believe me, Over And Out have something special. Vocalist Jeanette is Irish and quite superb. In time she’ll have to ditch the ‘Rock Chick’ image, the mediocre Metal band and even the ‘let’s boogie’ raps. In twelve months she’ll be unstoppable! Her acid ballad, ‘Prove Me Wrong’, could be sheer genius. The rest is formula, adult Rock but still cannot detract from Jeanette’s presence, feel and, Goddammit, power! As I say, twelve months.




Their debut Marquee slot and, believe me, Over And Out have something special. Vocalist Jeanette is Irish and quite superb. In time she’ll have to ditch the ‘Rock Chick’ image, the mediocre Metal band and even the ‘let’s boogie’ raps. In twelve months she’ll be unstoppable! Her acid ballad, ‘Prove Me Wrong’, could be sheer genius. The rest is formula, adult Rock but still cannot detract from Jeanette’s presence, feel and, Goddammit, power! As I say, twelve months.

Much has been written about Terence Trent Jerod. He’s black, he plays a white Stratocaster upside-down and heads a three- piece Rock outfit. He must be Hendrix.


I don’t want to insult the man’s talent or intelligence with such comparisons. Hendrix is dead, for Bernie Torme’s sake! Jerod is Soul. He has more conviction than the entire dance chart combined. He burns like a man reared on deep, Stax Motown. The grace of the compassionate and the angry. Jerod matters to this Rock circus.

The obligatory drum intro and they tumble headlong into ‘Charlie Boy’. Wrenching impossible licks and chords from his guitar with alarming disinterest, Jerod is far more than just another hybrid R & B child. There’s an edge to his playing and to such songs as ‘What 1 Want’ and ‘Never Stop Me Coming’. Here is furious urgency tempered with sensual humility.

When he shrugs off the guitar and walks amongst the crowd you just have to believe the guy. He doesn’t do this because it made Paul Hewson famous. He does it because he just wants you and me to believe him. He drags Jesus upon stage, shakes anybody’s hand and thanks his manager.

At times they suffer from the genre’s inherent indulgence, particularly in the drumming department. Maybe backing vocals would fill out the sound without hindering the lean delivery. Maybe if the bassist could move his face once in a while. Uncharitable gripes but nonetheless persistent.

Enough. In 1988 want a major label to shell Out big bucks for Jerod – the man and his music. So he used to play with Dexy’s Midnight Runners? C’mon, it paid the rent.

Enough. The spirit lives.