Smith / Kotzen + The Dust Coda + Bucket’s Rebel Heart @ KK’s Steel Mill, Wolverhampton – Thursday 3rd March 2022


Another decent crowd at KK’s Steel Mill witnessed a solid night of melodic hard rock with something for fans of every vintage. It is great to see that the team at KK’s have come back even stronger since the live music scene opened up again and they have some cracking shows lined up across the rest of the year. All credit to them for continuing to attract a wide range of artists across the rock and metal spectrum.

Bucket’s Rebel Heart

Kicking off proceedings tonight was Bucket’s Rebel Heart, led by guitarist Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell. Anyone familiar with the name will know that Bucket has a long CV that includes Bad Company, Humble Pie, FM and Samson to name just a few. His current band features the impressive Paul Manzi (Cats In Space, The Sweet) on vocals and they ploughed through some mid-tempo rockers to get the audience warmed up, starting with ’20 Good Summers’, the title track of their 2018 debut. Maiden B-side ‘Reach Out’, written by Bucket when he linked up with Adrian Smith in the late 80’s, was also dusted off and – unsurprisingly given the number of Maiden shirts in the crowd – got a good reception. It’s early days for BRH but they are worth checking out.

The Dust Coda

The Dust Coda made their mark on the album charts in 2021 when the terrific Mojo Skyline hit the Top 30 and they are a young band most definitely on the rise. They only got thirty minutes on stage tonight but made the most of it with an assured and confident performance that began with ‘The More It Fades’.  Vocalist John Drake has a fine set of pipes, showcased to some effect during the ballad ‘Sweet Love Is Gone’, and the hard rocking quartet appear to be an arena band-in-waiting. They finished off with the powerful ‘Limbo Man’ and will be back at KK’s as headliners in May which on tonight’s evidence will be a gig not be missed.

Smith Kotzen

The partnership between Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen is something of a guitarists dream with the pair bringing their individual styles together to some effect. Of course great guitar playing still needs to be backed up by strong songwriting, and the material they have delivered so far across an album and one EP is right out of the top drawer. The on stage chemistry was evident as they launched into the grunge injected ‘Taking My Chances’, which highlighted not only their ability to trade riffs and solos but also vocals – a formula that is very much the foundation of their sound. Bass was provided by Richie’s wife Julia Lage with young drummer Bruno Valverde completing the line-up.

Smith Kotzen

The rugged and melodic combination worked a treat as they romped through ‘Glory Road’, ‘Better Days’ and the soaring ‘Solar Fire’ which closed out the main set. For any aspiring guitarists in the crowd this was a masterclass in hard rock, blues rock and melodic rock and at times you could only marvel at the virtuosity on display. Kotzen’s ‘You Can’t Save Me’ began the encore before the inevitable ‘Wasted Years’ that raised the temperature in the room to another level. Judging by tonight’s display, Smith and Kotzen are clearly relishing being in each other’s company and, if other commitments allow, we will hopefully hear and see much more from them.


Taking My Chances
Better Days
Some People
Glory Road
You Don’t Know Me
Hate and Love
I Wanna Stay
‘Til Tomorrow
Got a Hold on Me
Rise Again
Solar Fire

You Can’t Save Me
Wasted Years