Fireworks

Mark Donnelly

Fireworks & Rocktopia Contributing Writer
Mark Donnelly
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I first got into rock music back in 1980 whilst at secondary school, in my hometown of Lincoln. The song that started my journey was Rainbow’s ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’. I subsequently got a cassette of the album ‘Down To Earth’ that I had on continuous rotation throughout that summer. I started religiously listening to ‘The Friday Rock Show’ and recording live concerts off the radio from the likes of AC/DC, Whitesnake and Foreigner. That Christmas I received the following albums: AC/DC ‘Back In Black’, Saxon ‘Wheels Of Steel’, Motorhead ‘Ace Of Spades’, Rainbow ‘Rising’ and Black Sabbath ‘Heaven & Hell’. The latter two albums are still in my all-time top ten.

Ironically, two of my all-time favourite artists, Journey and Rush, I did not like when I first heard thinking that the singers sounded like girls! In the early days the heavier the better but I soon developed a love for all things Melodic Rock and AOR and the latter, still to this day, remains my favourite genre. The album that changed everything for me was Def Leppard’s ‘Pyromania’ with its blend of hard rock and pop. I was fortunate to see them in Nottingham on that tour, in 1983, and have subsequently seen them many times since over the years.

I went to my first ever gig in October 1982 to see AC/DC at the now no more Leeds Queens Hall. Technically speaking the support band Y&T were the first I saw and I was thrilled to see them again, last year, at York Fibbers, almost exactly thirty-one years later.

From my very early concert-going days I began to record the set-lists and hand- write reviews. Back in the eighties I had the ability to memorise all the songs played at the show and in what order, however, these days I have to refer to my notebook and The Internet.

In 1990 I moved to Southampton that enabled me to see a lot more bands in the capital. In the early-nineties I would think nothing of going up to London after work for a concert, however, with added responsibilities and the advent of speed cameras the latter dwindled away as we entered the new Millennium. A move back up North, to Sheffield, in 2006 changed all that and has given me the opportunity to frequent more concerts these days.

When I am not working, as a Calibrations Services Manager, I spend most of my time watching sport, crime dramas and of course listening to music. I also like foreign travel especially cruises, however, I have still not convinced the wife to go on a rock cruise…

I got my opportunity to write for Fireworks and Rocktopia following a conversation with the then Reviews Editor, Paul Jerome Smith, at Firefest X. I was amazed that Paul had read some of my reviews that I had posted on melodicrock.com under the nom-de-plume Rockingbear. My first two album reviews were published in Issue 61 and since then I have not looked back. The main thing that I like about the magazine is that all the writers are fans and write from the heart; I am amazed at the knowledge of some of my colleagues as I thought that I was a bit of anorak! I would like to thank Paul and also Dave Scott, the new Reviews Editor, who are have been and are still very supportive and say that it is both an honour and a privilege to write for Fireworks and Rocktopia.

MARK DONNELLY

Mark's TOP 5 ARTISTS:

1. Def Leppard
2. Rush
3. Toto
4. Night Ranger
5. Journey

Mark's TOP 5 ALBUMS:

1. Journey – ‘Escape’
2. Def Leppard – ‘Pyromania’
3. Def Leppard – ‘Hysteria’
4. Van Stephenson – ‘Righteous Anger’
5. White Sister – ‘White Sister’

Mark's TOP 5 SONGS:

1. Journey – ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’
2. Rainbow – ‘Stargazer’
3. White Sister – ‘Promises’
4. Rush – ‘Tom Sawyer’
5. Night Ranger – ‘Don’t Say That You Love Me’

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