Review By Woody
It’s no surprise with the Asylum venue being managed by Shy bassist Roy Davies that the occasional melodic rock act will slip through onto this emerging Brum live music venue. Also, if I’m honest, The Asylum’s main room is probably the only venue in Brum I actually like, so it’s great to see JSS here!
Tonight’s opening act Danger Angel have the seal of approval of JSS and he produced their new album ‘Revolutia’. I thought their previous album was poor and the vocals were awful. However, ‘Revolutia’ sees a monumental improvement in the band’s songs and the new singer M.T. is a hundred times better. So it’s no surprise that tonight’s set only featured songs from their latest opus. The venue was still filling up as the band hit the stage but they came out ready to rock as though the room was packed. The sound was crystal clear for them and it really showed the band’s songs off in the best possible light. Vocalist M.T was engaging and vocally strong throughout their set. They definitely won some new fans tonight judging by applause and crowd reaction to their brand of highly melodic rock with a dark twist.
Next up was a three piece lead by guitarist Jorge Salan who is also part of JSS’s current touring band. Obviously Jeff has Jorge’s back so I’m reluctant to say anything too negative but I have to admit that their set did see a dip in the momentum of the evening built up by Danger Angel. At first I wondered if it was because most the songs were in his native Spanish tongue, but to be honest they just didn’t grab my attention and the band lacked the fire and stage presence of their predecessors, so they weren’t exactly an exciting band to watch. The addition of two covers; Bon Jovi’s ‘Lay Your Hands’ and Gary Moore’s ‘Over The Hills and Far Away’ was a good idea as they elicited the best reactions of the set. Jorge’s talent was plain to see but his songs didn’t grab me. It was going to be interesting to hear him on Jeff’s solo work.
I think most people here tonight were very excited to see Jeff Scott Soto live again as it has been quite a while since he’s toured the UK. So it was great to see him come bursting on stage, all guns blazing and seeing him so wildly fired up during the show’s opener ‘Take You Down’. Jeff then told us that he was running on adrenaline as he hadn’t slept for almost 48 hours after been unable to sleep in Belfast the previous night knowing he had a really early flight into Brum. Admittedly, his voice was a bit raw to start off, but he shouldn’t have worried as he and his band put on a storming show regardless.
Jeff engaged the crowd frequently and was very jovial with plenty of ad-lib and pastiches on the usual concert set pieces we’ve all become used to over the years.
Jorge Salan was as good as I thought he would be and did an amazing job on all the songs played tonight, Jeff had picked his guitarist well. B.J on keyboards and guitar impressed, with a great voice to boot. Edu Cominato also helped out on backing vocals and was a really impressive drummer, who, during his drum solo, played well known drum sections from songs rather than the usual boring ‘drum solo’ stuff. I never thought I would ever say I enjoyed a drum solo, but tonight I did.
Bass man, David Z, though… WOW, what a performer. He bounced around the stage with as much energy and fire as Jeff himself with a ten mile smile for the entire night. It was really fun to watch them interacting! We need to see more of David Z in the UK!
I had thought Jeff received a great crowd reaction from the start but when four songs in and BJ starts playing that unforgettable opening keyboard riff from W.E.T’s ‘One Love’, I thought the roar was going to tear the Asylum a new hole! I think it’s safe to say Jeff’s side project W.E.T is very popular, so it was a really cool moment to hear this song live.
Jeff chose a good set of solo material including ‘21st Centaury’, ‘Damage Control’, ‘Soul Devine’, ‘Tears I Cry’, and ‘Look Inside Your Heart’ on which he messed up the lyrics. After much laughter and apologies he made the band start over as he wanted to do it properly for the fans – he just needed the first line!
For me the highlight of the entire set was the Talisman medley. We heard snippets of ‘Break Your Chains’, ‘Day By Day’, ‘Give Me A Sign’, ‘Dangerous’, ‘Mysterious’, ‘Just Between us’, ‘Frozen’, ‘Crazy’ and of course ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ on which before the reprise of the chorus he tapped his Talisman t-shirt remarking ‘I’ve got unfinished business, this unfinished business’. It was a great medley and Jeff nailed it perfectly!
Oddly, Jeff did a cover of Wildlife’s ‘Shot In The Dark’, which Ozzy Osbourne turned it into a worldwide hit. Jeff did a great rendition of the song and it certainly got the crowd going. After set closer ‘Stand Up and Shout’, which Jeff wrote and performed for the film ‘Rockstar’, they left the stage doing a cheeky improv acapella rendition of Steel Panther’s ‘Community Property’ which got everyone chuckling!
Given the roar and chanting which continued after the encore the band were compelled to come back out again, and Jeff said “well we did cut one song to stick to the curfew, shall we do it?” Unfortunately the no nonsense stage manager was there as a quick as a flash to usher the band off-stage, which was a shame and made the fella rather unpopular! I know curfews are the law and breaking them can lose you your license, but I couldn’t help thinking if this was JB’s or The Robin we would have gotten that extra song!
Jeff promised us a killer show in the build up to this tour and he delivered it all as promised. A great fun evening full of laughter, energy and fire. Thanks Jeff, now don’t leave it so long before you return!