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Rock for Heroes, Grove Theatre, Dunstable, Friday 6 May 2022

Written by on 16th May 2022

by Steve Ashwell

As the host of the Solid Rock show I may be slightly biased but I really enjoyed the experience of attending this local gig in the Rock For Heroes tour. I hope that our competition winner on Leighton Buzz Radio also enjoyed their experience.

The instrumental show opener of the Top Gun anthem set the scene perfectly. This is a great show that showcases guitar rock. On stage the 7 band members are lead, rhythm and bass guitars, drums, keyboards and two lead female vocalists. These musicians are complete professionals and the songs were performed rather than copied. By that I mean the band play and sing them adding their own flavour, so it’s not the same as a tribute show but I found it more entertaining for all that. I say 7 band members but band leader Phil makes it clear that the 8th member of the band is the long suffering unseen sound man Paul and he did a great job mixing the sound of all the people on stage so they came across clearly and at volume.

Also picking up lead male vocal duties the frontman Phil is very easy going and pulls the audience in, naturally funny he weaves a thread through the whole show. Introducing the other band members, giving just enough of their backstory for the audience to appreciate their talent. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and you can tell though he might gently take the mickey, he is only having fun. I certainly picked up on the close chemistry between the band members on stage. As I listened to song after song, each with different vocal demands, I don’t know how Phil has managed to find such talented female vocalists as Hayley and the newest permanent recruit Tilly. This was only Tilly’s fourth show with the band and she was great, putting in strong performances both as lead and backing vocals. Hard to single one person out though as everyone contributed 100% to each song. I loved Petey’s guitar virtuosity and some of those songs are damned hard to play well but he pulled it off. Bassist Nathan really rocked out swapping places on stage, frantically head banging and going crazy on the back centre podium when songs demanded it. Jodie on keys was awesome, adding a special touch of magic to each song and taking centre stage on several including the first song after the interval (an inspired choice, I felt) with Van Halen’s Jump played on keytar. On this particular night the drummer was standing in for the regular drummer and he did an excellent job, Phil explained they had first met at 2pm that afternoon!

You might be wondering about the connection with Help For Heroes, the armed forces charity that the band are affiliated with, and Phil explains the reason behind the whole venture. A mixture of generational family history, doing his bit in his own way and being an outlet for his talent for musical performance. There are sealed collection buckets on stage that come out after the show. It was good to be able to enjoy the music and show appreciation for the service men and women who keep us all safe, especially with today’s situation.

Coming back to the music, I loved the choice of songs – their version of Boys of Summer has to be heard and there was even a couple of Meatloaf hits in a nod to the great man himself. The guitar and keyboard solos were very special and something I’ll remember for a long time to come. If you enjoy Queen, Bryan Adams and Guns ‘N’ Roses you will be happy as the band bring their versions of classic soft rock to life and get ready with that phone torch is all I’ll say!

A great evening of music and it was lovely to catch up with members of the band afterwards as I casually slipped a note into a bucket. Please do check this band and tour out the next time they are playing in your area, the tour continues through the early summer months of May and June before picking up again in the autumn. You will NOT be disappointed!

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