Joe Lynn Turner - Classic Grand, Glasgow Hot

Added by James Gaden     September 08, 2015    
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Turner still has what it takes to perform at the highest level.


A decent, sunny for a change Glasgow evening, and I find myself heading for the Joe Lynn Turner acoustic gig at the Classic Grand venue on Renfield Street. I have seen JLT many times over the years, first catching him as Rainbow’s new front man on the 1980 Difficult to Cure tour at Endinburgh’s Ingleston market and again for the Straight Between the Eyes and Bent out of Shape tours. I also caught him on the Deep Purple Slaves and Masters tour at the same venue and again with Yngwie Malmsteen in the late 80’s. Didn’t catch him live again till a solo headlining spot at the 2007 Forces of Rock festival in Stuttgart from where the JLT live in Germany release was recorded.

I have always believed that JLT has one of the most underrated voices in rock and has received some harsh and unwarranted criticism from some sections of the Rainbow and Deep Purple fan base solely because he had stepped into the shoes of more established and better known vocalists. I believe it fair to say that he brought something different and new into each of the bands he has been involved with.

Anyway, back to the Classic Grand. The venue was already quite busy by the time I arrived to catch the second support act Rank Berry who I know absolutely nothing about but put on an enjoyable set and I hope to catch them again at some point in the future.

It must be very difficult to organise these one off type acoustic gigs with little opportunity for rehearsal so hats off to our own Ross McEwen and his merry band of accomplices - James Bird on guitar, Ryan McEwen on drums and Stewart McArthur on bass for making this event possible.

For those that have never been to the Classic Grand, it is a very intimate setting that is capable of generating a fantastic atmosphere as the crowd are more or less right on top of the band. On this occasion, good and bad as the banter between Joe and the crowd was almost as entertaining as the music. However, unless you were in the first two rows or seven foot tall, you could only see the tops of Joe and Ross’ heads due to the seated acoustic positions taken by the guys – a raised stage might have helped there.

The set opens with classic Rainbow numbers ‘Stone Cold’ and ‘Street of Dreams’ which raise a big cheer and gets the crowd going and singing along, not that this required much encouragement. Joe's voice sounds great to my ears and still hits the high note (unlike some other well known singers I have seen recently, cough Deep cough White cough).


‘Mystery of the Heart’ co written with Glenn Hughes followed next which was a nice reworking of this song. JLT then related how he heard about the passing of the late, great Ronnie James Dio before dedicating the next song ‘Catch the Rainbow’ to his memory. It was a very emotional performance from the artist and put a lump in the throats of even the most hardened of rockers, probably the highlight of the night for me.

The next section of three tracks were classic covers of ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Dust in the Wind’ and ‘Moondance’ very well performed and sung. I thought a strange choice of songs but they did show Joe’s ability to sing different styles of material. Time for some Deep Purple announces Joe before launching into ‘King of Dreams’ and ‘Love Conquers All’ – two of my particular favourites from that era. The acoustic treatment really suited these songs.

Another section of four classic covers followed with ‘Roadhouse Blues’, ‘Hush’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘Tush’. I believe the crowd may have been treated to a rendition of Blackbird, but this was voted out by the audience. Joe then asked ‘What do you want to hear then?’ one bright spark shouts out “Back in Black”. Joe gives the crowd a quick story about Brian Johnson, sings the first line but then thinks better about tempting fate and carrying on any further. I think that would have been worth hearing, maybe next time guys.

The purple classics ‘Black Night’ and finally ‘Smoke on the Water’ closed out the set and ended a most enjoyable night. JLT still has what it takes to perform at the highest level and his voice still sounds great and the audience all left with smiles on their faces – enough said.

I was impressed by Ross McEwen who was possibly a bit nervous to start with but soon got into his stride through the first two numbers growing in confidence and treating the crowd to some very good guitar work. I am sorry to say I have never caught his band Roadway which is something I will have to remedy next time they tour.

Chris Mee

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