Concert Reviews

Burning Rain / Big River Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     April 19, 2019    
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Burning Rain / Big River - Camden Underworld, London (UK) - 06 April 2019

Big River are usually a full electric show act, but coincidentally both times I have seen them is in acoustic shows. They are accomplished songwriters and although I have not seen the electric show to make comparisons, both times I have seen them they delivered a mature and high quality show, including tonight. It is testimony to the songs that, although I have only heard them twice, I can remember a lot of them to sing after the show. They are a hard rockin' Blues band and the acoustic medium brings out their strongly soulful side. Once again, I really enjoyed the show and look forward to seeing their full electric set.

Big River Live London 2019

Burning Rain are also, of course, usually a full electric act, but have been sent out as a taster by Frontiers with just singer Keith St John and guitarist Doug Aldrich (well known in the UK for Whitesnake and The Dead Daisies). While I have seen Doug live many times with both aforementioned bands, I have never seen Keith St John live before. He certainly is a quality vocalist and reminded me of Robert Plant, early Coverdale and John Corabi combined, a heady cocktail indeed.

They kicked off with a Stones cover, 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', which while a great version and guaranteed to get things pumping, I was pleased to hear their own track 'Revolution' from their excellent new album 'Face The Music' as the second track in the set. I enjoyed 'Midnight Train' from the new album even better live, as stripped back the two voices and insistent rhythm evoking a steam engine were really brought into life. Refusing to be restricted by the acoustic medium, Doug had rigged up an effects pedal board that enabled him to shred and get a much bigger sound, more like his electric tone out of his gear with whammy on top. St John referred to this as "Doug manufacturing stuff from Pluto" and it did feel revolutionary and ground-breaking, if a little experimental. While he did seem to be making it up as he went along sometimes, it worked phenomenally well and was quite remarkable. Another new song 'Beautiful Road' really sounded like John Corabi was singing it with superb rock 'n' roll whisky toned vocals which should impress wherever they go.

Burnin Rain Live London 2019 1

They made the most of the informal atmosphere by talking about the British weather and food and joshing with each other about who shlepped the gear (Doug!) and taking the train to Scotland. Their latest release is their fourth album and although Burning Rain are still a connoisseur's secret in the UK, an older ballad 'Cherie Don't Break My Heart' from 2013 seemed to get some recognition from the crowd. However, they made sure that everyone was on the same page by drawing from Hendrix classics 'Purple Haze' and 'All Along The Watchtower', and again from the Stones to get a singalong to 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'.

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Describing themselves as "dudes that write songs about chicks and life", they dipped into an older album again with 'Heaven Gets Me By' and during it I constantly thought of Corabi and Robert Plant when listening to the vocals - not too shabby. The comparison was encouraged by little Zeppelin-esque rising waterfalls of guitar at the end of the lines. Coming forward again to 'If It's Love', which is a monster AOR track which has the ring of something you have heard before but is wonderfully new, once again the guitar work was superb almost flamenco like at times, but with strong fast eighties solos as well, an intoxicating mix.

We were getting towards the end of the show and, looking at the shirts in the audience, Doug wisely dipped into the Whitesnake back catalogue with 'Crying In The Rain'. Unsurprisingly St John is less familiar with these songs and the audience weighed in enthusiastically in a shambolic attempt to sing all the words. But with maestro status already demonstrated by these musicians it is a popular move and involved all of the audience with much-loved material. With the help of a lyric sheet St John manifested a good version of Whitesnake's 'Forevermore' which Doug helped to write when he was in that band, and it's a gorgeous song, beautifully done.

Burnin Rain Live London 2019 2

It was appropriate to end with 'Face The Music', the new album's title track, introduced with the encouragement to stand up for what you believe in. Not only did we get more quality vocals and shredding, but it ended with a reminder that they are primarily here to pave the way for more Burning Rain gigs in the UK. I certainly hope that next time they can bring the full electric show and give the UK the thorough rogering it deserves.

Review and photos by Dawn Osborne

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