Review by Paul Davis, Photos by Mark Lloyd
Planet Rock presents is a series of shows around the country highlighting the best up and coming rock bands. The last show saw BlackWolf, Buffalo Summer and Tax The Heat appearing in Gloucester. Tonight at the Asylum it was the turn of Toseland, Piston and Arron Luther to show what they could do.
First up, after an introduction from the radio station’s Paul Anthony, and playing his first show with this line-up, is Arron Luther. With songs like ‘Best That I Can’ and ‘Something About Love’ there’s more than a hint of Bryan Adams. It’s OK though, because it’s more rocking Bryan Adams than ‘Everything I Do…’ Bryan Adams.
Fans of Bon Jovi may also find much to love about Arron Luther and his band. ‘Crazy Good’ is introduced as a song that was written with Jovi collaborator Billy Falcon. When we’re told there’s time for one last song, one quick witted punter shouts out for ‘Summer Of ‘69’.
If the opening act was a little unfamiliar, then anyone who’s a regular gig goer in the Midlands has probably been acquainted with Piston. The local boys, their ‘Piston – West Midlands’ t-shirts at the merch stand proudly proclaiming where they’re from, have been seen supporting The Union and The Temperance Movement amongst others. Paul Anthony returns to the stage to introduce the band, calls for more whooping, and plugs some Planet Rock merchandise. (Planet Rock apron for barbecue season anyone?).
Technical issues spoil the big build up somewhat but they start again, handle it well and their performance is a triumph. ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘My Time’ combine old school with modern influences and ‘Leave If You Dare’ is the latest single that you may have heard on the radio. When frontman Steve Nunn say there’s time for one more there are boos from the crowd. He reassures us that ‘it’s a long one’. On the day Piston were added to the bill for Hard Rock Hell they may have played the show of their lives.
Finally, it’s tonight’s headliners Toseland. The world superbike champion (twice) was forced to retire through injury but fortunately had another talent to fall back on. With the help of producer and mentor Toby Jepson, James Toseland has returned to his first love. Immediately, with the opening salvo of ‘Gotta Be A Better Way’ and ‘Burning The System’ it’s clear why Planet Rock are right behind this band.
James Toseland’s vocals are somewhere between Myles Kennedy and Glenn Hughes and when the piano arrives centre stage for ‘Just No Way’ he shows he’s equally at home with the ballads as the hard rocking songs. The piano remains for the wonderful ‘Kingdoms’. Covers of The Teardrop Explodes and Elvis Costello are not your standard fare at a hard rock show, so ‘Reward’ and ‘Pump It Up’ make a refreshing change.
‘Comin’ To Get Ya’, ‘Good Eye Blind’ and recent single ‘Crash Landing’ close the main set before the encore begins with another cover, this time ‘Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)’. The night ends with ‘Renegade’ which Toseland describes as autobiographical but in style there’s also a nod to his mentor. With his band behind him, quite righty described by Paul Anthony as ‘shit hot’, James Toseland is making the transition from race track to rockstar look an easy one.