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Merton Manor Club, Wimbledon, London
Saturday 28th February 2015

steve goldby

mick underwood

"Welcome to the gig of the week", said frontman Luka Ravase as proceedings got underway and it must be said, it was absolutely brilliant to hear these songs, some of which have become long forgotten, dusted down and played once more.

The band Gillan had a very distinct sound and a very unique repertoire and that sound that defines them came from Colin Towns' keyboard and the guitar of Bernie Tormé and then Janick Gers. Listen to the albums 'Mr Universe', 'Glory Road' and 'Future Shock' to see exactly what I mean.

And the best thing about tonight's gig was that those distinctive keyboard and guitar sounds were replicated almost to perfection. Add into the mix the drummer of the Gillan band himsef and a frontman who has pretty much nailed the former Deep Purple singer's every move and scream and you have a mix more than worthy to carry these classic numbers forward to a new generation.

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I've changed my mind about "tribute" bands this last couple of years and have gone from being pretty anti towards realising that there are a lot of valid acts out there keeping our favourite songs alive and in some cases, breathing new life into them. This was a classic case in point.

Having said that, Mick Underwood's Glory Road is not a "tribute" act as such as having the original drummer in the line-up negates that label. This is a continuation/extension of past glories - let's face it, Ian Gillan is never going to perform these tracks again so this is what we have now and it's to be celebated, not analysed.

mick underwood

The intro, 'Second Sight', is the intro to the 'Mr Universe' album and the band delivered the first track proper of that opus, 'Secret Of The Dance', before my favourite track from 'Glory Road, 'Sleeping On The Job' almost lifted the ceiling off. That was how long it took before we knew we were in for a treat tonight and that this band were indeed the real deal.

Two from Gillan's final album, 'Magic', were expertly aired and with 'Bluesy Blue Sea' and 'Living A Lie', the band were now truly in their swing and firing on all cylinders.

'Good Lord Knows' was dedicated to the recently departed Jon Gustafson before they played the stomping 'Black Sheep Of The Family', my personal favourite track of the night. This track is best known as a Rainbow number from the Ronnie James Dio years but it as actually a Quatermass song originally, as was 'Good Lord...'.

And on that note, 'The River, which followed 'Black Sheep...' is from the 'Quatermass II' album which came out years later and was writen by Bernie Torme.

mick underwood

A holy triumvarate of sorts followed next without which no Gillan set would be complete and 'Trouble', 'On The Rocks' and 'Unchain Your Brain' really were representative of the whole set both musically and performance wise.

In fact, it was almost wall to wall classics from then right until the end as 'If You Believe Me', 'No Easy Way' and the bluesy, soulful 'If I Sing Softly' showcased the band's not inconsiderable talents. 'No Laughing In Heaven' is a tricky song for any vocalist to sing but Luka nailed it good and proper and the stomping 'Vengeance' was just a total pleasure to listen to.

Set closer 'Mr Universe' was also a delight and a barnstorming 'New Orleans' and 'Lucille' wrapped up proceedings and left the audience wanting more.

mick underwood

It's always a pleasure to chat to Mick after a gig as he has a wealth of stories to tell going all the way back to the Gene Vincent years and no serious music fan could fail to be delighted by tales of yore involving Ritchie Blackmore, The Beatles and many, many more massive names. Mick really is a one off and being in his company is a real pleasure.

Special mention to Jeff Summers on the guitar who really nailed it tonight. I've seen Jeff play many, many times and this was probably the best I have ever seen him perform.

I saw Luka again on the Sunday night when he sang 'Highway Star' at Metalworks in Camden and I'm only mentioning this because I am still laughing a week later when I remember Metalworks mainman Steph introducing him as "Luka Ravioli".

I'm still smiling at the memory of a great performance by Glory Road too, a band you should definitely make an effort to check out.

Intro - Second Sight
Secret Of The Dance
Sleeping On The Job
She Tears Me Down
Bluesy Blue Sea
Living A Lie
Good Lord Knows
Black Sheep Of The Family
On The Rocks
Unchain Your Brain
If You Believe Me
No Easy Way
If I Sing Softly
No Laughing In Heaven
Mr Universe

New Orleans

Pictures by: Russ LoudShirts Crandley

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