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White Lion, Streatham, London

mark taylor

bernie torme

A charity event in aid of Music4Children and the local Streatham Cats Rescue Group had a purrfect line up featuring a rare London date from former Gillan guitarist Bernie Torme.

Streatham is not the easiest of places to connect to in London which unfortunately meant by the time I got to SW16 and found the venue I had just missed the opening band of the female fronted Led Zep folky blues group Blueberry Bush, which was a real shame because everyone was raving about them after their set including MetalTalk photographer Dutch Michaels.

Stampede were the surprise additions travelling all the way down from the Midlands especially to be here. Incidentally, bassist Colin Bond was once in Bernie Torme's band many moons ago.

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The venue was neatly starting to fill up as Stampede took to the stage. Well, seeing that this was an intimate gig in a pub for charidee, the stage was a small piece of space crammed into the corner with the drummers of the night packed under the staircase.

However Stampede took their set in their stride and got flowing with the good feeling of 'Having Fun'. Old chestnut and fan favourite 'Days Of Wine And Roses' was a reminder of what could've been had the major labels have given them the right backing in the early 80's.

bernie torme

The more recent 'Humble Pie' is a rootsy rocker whilst 'Send Me Down An Angel' gets some fans singing for the first time this evening. A bit early in the evening for the crowd to totally lose their inhibitions but Stampede earned themselves some credible respect for a solid set.

The Peckham Cowboys brought the cool cats in the crowd with them. The band themselves are like a bunch of vagabonds who are descendants of the Artful Dodger but they came dressed to impress and they sound like the Quireboys on crack. So it's no surprise then that two former members of the Quireboys have had some involvement with this band although none are present this evening.

bernie torme

Marc Eden led his cowboys through an array of musical noises and were having a right good ole fashioned ding dong where everyone was ready for a knees up. It was a little ironic that the banner behind the band proudly supported Music4Children whilst Eden banged on about the song titles such as 'Crack House Blues' and 'Painkillers': "A song about taking cocaine and ketamine tablets." Remember kids, Just Say No.

'Knocked Senseless' was a great new number and 'Debt Collector' had a ska feel to it with a touch of Madness. Peckham Cowboys could well be millionaires this time next year, if only the local Italian mafia still deal in Lira that is.

bernie torme

Nothing was going to stop me from being a complete fan boy for Bernie Torme as I was a member of his fan club back in 1982, so I let my Chelsea boots do the walking as I got myself right down the front and became thirteen years old all over again.

Bernie Torme is better known for his time with Gillan. He enjoyed three Top Ten albums with them and headlined Reading Festival, before taking on the difficult task of temporarily performing with Ozzy Osbourne after the tragic death of Randy Rhoads before returning for a second time as a solo artist with a few albums that never got the critical plaudits they rightly deserved but his unique guitar style of Hendrix plays Rory Gallagher earned him many devotees.

I was surprised to see that providing bass lines was none other than Chris Heilmann who with with Bernie in the band Torme along with Phil Lewis and was last heard off in the US band Shark Island. The Californian sunshine hasn't done him any harm and it was a pleasure to see him reunited with Mr Torme once more.

bernie torme
Blueberry Bush

With the volume turned up to max, Bernie launched into 'Wild West' with his six string firing off licks in all directions before the GMT track 'Bullet In The Brain' ricocheted off the walls.

The Nashville Teens riff of 'Turn Out The Lights' was another timely reminder of Bernie's solo punkish past. Slowing things down with 'Getting There' with a sublime solo while 'Star' is a jolly little number and should have been a massive hit.

bernie torme

'Mystery Train' is a slow gem from the 'Back To Babylon' album and was the only other slowie in the set of ear blasting greats.

A nod to his more recent time with GMT was uncovered with the Irish ditty 'Rocky Road' and 'Can't Beat Rock 'N Roll'. Gillan favourites included 'No Easy Way' and the popular cover versions of 'Trouble' and 'New Orleans'. By now Bernie was ripping the shred out of his guitar bending notes and holding his Stratocaster high above his head.

bernie torme

A couple more covers came in the encores that were a part of Bernie's past in the Larry Williams rock 'n roller of 'Bony Moronie' and Purple's 'Smoke On The Water' with some numpty invited onto the stage who didn't know the words!

Being a purist I could have done with a whole lot more material from his solo albums but this was a helluva lot of fun and I await his tour later in the year with full anticipation.

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