It’s a testament to the legacy of Cozy Powell both as an artist and a person that so many classic rock legends have given their time (for free) to celebrate what would have been Cozy’s 71st birthday on the Saturday between Christmas and New Year at the Robin 2 in Bilston. The old adage that it’s easier to list the bands he hasn’t played with isn’t a flattering PR boast, but in Cozy’s case is pretty much true. If you’re reading this then his albums with Jeff Beck Group, Rainbow, Whitesnake, Michael Schenker Group and Black Sabbath probably nestle comfortably within your record/cd/mp3 collection. With that impressive CV alone, it’s easy then to forget his collaborations with the likes of Robert Plant, Peter Green, Jon Lord, Roger Daltrey, Glenn Tipton and Gary Moore to name but a few. So when Bob Richards had the idea of putting together this celebratory show in his memory it is not surprising that there was no shortage of talented musicians wanting to give up their time to be a part of it.
The evening focuses on just four of the bands Cozy made an impression with and DJ Andy Fox comperes the evening with short audio clips from interviews with Cozy between the set changes.
‘Kill The King’ kicks off the Rainbow era set. Uriah Heep’s Russell Gilbrook takes up the drum stool for the first couple of numbers with the power to do justice to the tracks, while Cats In Space frontman Paul Manzi delivers Dio’s vocals with a passion and humility. They are supplemented by Neil Taylor on keys and Peter Knight on bass. Ian Richard Wills meanwhile tears into the lead on ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’ and the expansive ‘Stargazer’ effortlessly while fending off any Aquaman jibes by which time, flying in from Italy, Mike Terrana takes over on drums.
The journey through Rainbow continues with The Sweet’s Tony O’Hora taking up the mic for a run through of Down To Earth‘s finest tracks; ‘Lost In Hollywood’, ‘Eyes Of The World’ and ‘All Night Long’, and this also saw Thunder’s Chris Childs and Harry James taking over the rhythm section.After a short change over, next up is the Michael Schenker Group era set. Original MSG and current Michael Schenker Fest members Chris Glen and Ted Mckenna make up the rhythm section with Dare guitarist Vinny Burns taking on Schenker’s role. Glenn Quinn adds additional guitars while Lionheart’s Lee Small lead them through an impressive ‘Armed & Ready’ and ‘Cry For The Nations’. Chris Glen introduces ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’ as the first song both he and Cozy wrote with Michael. It’s a superb take with Burns nailing Schenker’s tone and melody. Glen & McKenna are as sensational as ever – one would be foolish to expect anything less.
For the Whitesnake set, Neil Murray makes himself comfortable stage left and the guitar duties are handled by Jim Kirkpatrick and Chris Buck. Ex Magnum and Phenomena alumni Richard Bailey fills in on keyboards and the vocals alternate between Chris Ousey, who opens with ‘Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues’, and Paul Manzi. As they run into ‘Guilty Of Love’ and ‘Gambler’ I’m reminded of the wonderful songwriting and music from Mel Galley; another taken from us far too early. It’s great to hear the bluesier version of ‘Crying In The Rain’ with Kirkpatrick and Buck trading sublime blues licks, and ‘Here I Go Again’ has the whole house singing along. Ester Rowley also deserves a mention for her complementary backing vocals throughout. A raucous ‘Slide It In’ brings the set to a conclusion.
As if the Whitesnake set wasn’t enough, it’s a real treat to see Tony Martin on the stage again alongside Neil Murray and singing some Sabbath classics. Bob Richards is on drums and Ian Richard Wills completes the line up as they run through ‘Anno Mundi’ and the irrepressible ‘Headless Cross’. Despite suffering from a cold Martin does a fine job. Whether by design or just due to time constraints, that’s all the Sabbath that we got as there was an interlude for a raffle (all proceeds for the event were going to Cozy’s preferred charity, World Animal Protection) before an allstar encore which saw the majority of the artists back on stage for a rip roaring take on ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’.
There were no egos here tonight. All that were gathered were here for the same reason and having fun. It really was a party atmosphere, and after the encore all of the musicians were happy to mingle with the crowd to chat, take photos and sign stuff. Hats off to Bob Richard and Ian Richard Wills for organising the evening. They, and all concerned, did Cozy proud and a fantastic evening was had by all, and with talk of this becoming an annual event, we can only hope.
Michael Schenker Group set:
Armed & Ready
Cry For The Nations
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Walking In The Shadow Of The Blues
Guilty Of Love
Love Ain’t No Stranger
Slow & Easy
Crying In The Rain
Here I Go Again
Slide It In
Black Sabbath set:
Since You’ve Been Gone