Usher Hall, Edinburgh
James Cole began this project eight years ago, while touring the tribute acts “Brit Floyd and Rumours Of Fleetwood Mac. Both acts had a great reception and did very well indeed. After the success of two successful tribute bands. James conceived the idea of a live touring delve into his record collection. Almost like a Rock N Roll Juke Box. Without a fixed set list, where songs performed depended on the feel and enthusiasm of the audience on each night of this 39 date tour of the United Kingdom.
James Cole. Electric and Acoustic Guitars.
Tim Brown – Drums
Wayne Banks – Bass
Pete Thorn – Electric Guitar
Henry Burnett – Keys
Rudy Cardenas – Lead Vocal
Jesse Smith – Lead Vocal
Jess Harwood – Lead Vocal.
I met the amazing photographer, Raymond Speedie at the box office of the Usher Hall, we picked up our tickets and found our seats. for this Rock N Roll cabaret, Indeed it had been described as a delve into James Cole’s record collection a selection of Rock N Roll greats, renditions and arrangements of songs that have sold billions of records. From soft rock crooners to hard rock megaliths, I didn’t have a clue who sang the originals of the opening numbers or what they were called, It was only by seeing pictures of the artists that created the music I was listening to projected onto the stage screen and even then I had difficulty figuring out who sang the song.. Rainbow, Rush and probably another prog 80’s metal band, I was in the minority though, most of the audience were singing along pleasantly.
I was a fully-fledged New Romantic in the 80’s Metal didnae get a look in. It wasnae until we moved halfway through the first set. That Mark Knofler came up on the screen, Oh good am gonna know this one, aye it was Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits its a nice song, not that I bought it, but I saw it on Top Of The Pops, Things geared up with an honest rendition of Another Brick In The Wall by Floyd, and indeed, yes, it was perfectly performed – I can see how the Brit Floyd impressed. These guys do have a massive supportive fan base, the Usher Hall is a large venue and it was near to sold out with 50-something rockers. Joyce and her husband had come up all the way from Dumfries, they were with friends they had all seen this band many times, Joyce was 81 and she was grooving. Joyce had the moves, especially when Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love began its opening riff.
By the second half of the concert, the PA had been amplified somewhat, I couldnae help thinking it was too loud, maybe even distorting, My ears are still ringing as I am writing this. It was when Bowie’s Space Oddity was performed, I really enjoyed the musical arrangement of the song, specifically the keyboard players Avant Garde touches, I almost thought that the band were going to follow with Aladdin Sane, It would have worked. Then we had Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody played live in its entirety, I am not sure that Queen did the whole song live, am pretty sure the middle vocal harmonies were a taped performance segment, because they were too difficult to do at the time. However the three singers tonight did a sterling Job of bringing Freddie back to life. There was an Eagles song that I had never heard before, am not an Eagles fan, although I do like Hotel California, And the Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” surprised me.
I Know, I Know, I Know! its not my record collection, if It had of been there would have been a lot more Clash, Siouxsie And The Banshees, Soft Cell and The Human League in the mix. There were a few more soft rock songs, the likes of Journey and Toto. The crescendo was a mega mix and yes, they brought the house down. but on the whole, tonight was a retro feel-good cabaret, Performed by very talented professional musicians. Expertly orchestrated and brilliantly presented.
James Cole, the musical director and guitarist, stated that the show was akin to a jukebox. What it boils down to personally I just wouldnae have put a lot of the songs performed tonight on a Juke Box. Brilliant in parts and a fair representation of rock classics, Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell and Lynard Skinard’s Freebird and Status Quo’s “Get On Down” had the balcony bouncing, and yes it was as near perfect as the originals.
This was date 35 of a 39-date tour, a massive production on the road, with material this well-rehearsed, renditions of songs that the baying audience wanted to hear Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” got a standing ovation. Indeed the collective masterful musicianship and brilliant voices collectively took everyone on a trip down memory lane. The band and the audience had a thoroughly good time.
Divine on Words, Raymond Speedie on Photographs