Filthy's at The Red Lion, Twickenham - December 30
Top rock venue, Filthy's at The Red Lion, Twickenham, played host to visiting rock covers band, Burn on Saturday night and the place was packed in anticipation of a cracking night of rock excess and metal mayhem. The signs were good for this and after a sound check which resulted in a great drum sound, the boys were ready for it. Would Rob be up for it all evening? Would Johnny's cold affect his legendary vocal chords? Would Ross wear a shirt with sleeves?
Two words summed up the gig. Totally great! From the opening strains of Wishing Well, Burn were top of the form and educating all with the subject tonight being Classic Rock. Top of the class, Rob Sas was ticking all the boxes on his multiple choice rock question paper and getting the right answers too. He certainly passed the exam tonight with some deft soloing on his rapidly ageing Relic Strat through a Marshall amplifier and got merit for his superb rhythm work. The sound of Burn is the sound of Rob's mighty guitar and tonight Rob was collecting all the gold stars.
No exam nerves for drummer Ross Elder, a man steeped in academic brilliance of a rock tutorage. Not only does Ross know the drum curriculum backwards, he knows it the right way too and what's more, the man is also a teacher! Incredible! There were more than a few apples left on this Sir's desk by the end of the night and we were all his grateful students eagerly learning from the hands of La Professori. The sound of Burn is this man's percussive sounds and violent rhythms and tonight, Ross was Head Prefect and Milk Monitor.
Johnny Heywood was the Bassist and Singer and Head of both Departments. Don't believe it when they say a man can't do two things simultaneously as Mr Heywood proved he could hold a class in both subjects and breathe at the same time - surely he must be paid twice? (not a chance - Rob) Despite a head cold, there was no absenteeism at this boy's music school and Johnny kept it up till the bell rang for playtime. The sound of Burn is Johnny's deep bass and trebly voice and tonight, Johnny was the Janitor and Odd Job Man.
"Well, that's not quite correct Critic, as I had a couple of lapses which were not my fault and I attribute them to lack of talent," lectured Johnny during the break. "That and trying to remember if I'd set my video for the big Sky Movie correctly."
With a proper stage, lights and a great soundman, there was no way Rob could get in the way of the route to the toilet and so the gig went without a hitch. Several familiar faces attended school tonight and a couple of new friends were made too.
Sadly, the midnight bell came and sounded "school's out" for another term.
The Crown, Lechlade - December 26
Once again, the traditional Boxing Day gig is Burn at the Crown and this venue has enjoyed some fantastic gigs over the years.
The place was busy and bubbling with many familiar faces. Assisting guitarist Roberto Sas was Pete who arranged his seat in such a way as to block the route to the toilet thus preventing punters from walking over Rob's foot pedals as has been the case every other time Burn has played here. Last time, a fight started with the bar man who was trying to collect Rob's empty glass!
This time no gap was left and any attempt to cross the boundary was met with swift punishment. Sadly, this also applied to poor Mother-to-be Sarah who tried to bring some orange juice to Rob's table and was man-handled brutishly by mistake.
However, the music and the band made up for this barbarism. This was the true Burn - loud and proud, rocking and rolling and absolutely on fire.
Johnny admitted to being a little hoarse after three marathon Xmas gigs and recording all day Saturday but even in reduced capacity, this man has no equal. Obviously, there are lots of guys better than him but not equal. The Rickenbacker was once again the choice weapon and even using the smaller combo, his bass was the business.
Ross celebrated Xmas and New Year all at once with his playing. Never un-necessarily flash, Ross delivers every gig and kept this up till the end, probably just to show off.
It was a game of two halves for Rob who played like a Rock God and despite some misgivings about his Line 6 combo, it was all sounding terrific.
Local resident, Wee Willie Pikey, of the Lechlade Pikey's, sought relief from the abnormally high amount of alcohol he had consumed since breakfast and was going straight through Rob's barricade. Despite protestations from Pete, Wee Willie decided he was not a man to see reason and grappled with Pete's throat resulting in the latter being pushed to the ground! Another fight in the Crown! What is going on? The band halted while others pulled away Mr Pikey, who then continued on his way. Johnny apologised for the interruption citing the reason as Mr Pikey being a "wanker" and most people thought that was a compliment.
Sadly, that seemed to put the dampers on the guitar department as Rob pulled down the shutters on rock histrionics and simply played the tunes despite Ross geeing him up with some very powerful playing.
Guest vocalist Tim from Strange Kind Of Purple got up and performed Highway Star. A difficult song to sing at any time, Tim proved what a great singer he was and got a fantastic reception at the end.
So the gig ended on a subdued level and this was a pity as these gigs are so often "10/10". Sadly, you never know what a Burn gig will give you - music? Pleasure? Violence? Indifference?
The Rising Sun, Slough - December 22
One of the best venues around and one that Burn loves to play. The later start suited everyone, especially as the parking restrictions only stop at 9pm as Johnny and Rob once found to their cost.
There was a sizeable crowd in tonight and didn't the boys do well? Shaking off all concerns about illness and lurggies that were floating around, the Burn Boys beat a big battling path to the door of Rock Central. Riding the Express train of heavy metal locomotion, they proved that they are one of the most versatile acts around with everything from sleek bullet-train racers to golden steam-age melodic ballads and all stations in between.
Yes sir, and it was chief guardsman Ross Elder who blew the whistle that started off this rock train of delight with insightful drumming and powerful percussive playing that held the band tight when it threatened to fly off the rails. Ross used his electronic gear tonight and this time there were no sub-sonic woofs to antagonise the bass department. His playing was pure locomotive power and shone like a headlight shooting out of a dark tunnel.
Stoking the fire was Johnny Heywood with his Black Rickenbacker firing on all cylinders as he shovelled the coal into this rock boiler. No need of a spade for this engineer of classic rock, with his bass pummelling the tracks at ground level and his high soaring voice on top announcing the arrival of yet another great song. What a Flying Scotsman!
Driving the train of joy was Robbie Sas, a man who really knows how to build up a head of steam and when to apply the brakes. Rob's clever play interpolated themes and melodies like an Inter-City 125 alongside his shunting rhythm work to complete a great night for the band.
It was great to hear Bryan Adams' Run To You back in the set and rumour is that we may yet hear one or two new songs for 2007. Special mention must also be made to young Sarah Pate who worked the lights tirelessly all evening which made a wonderful difference.
The band was on fire tonight and deserved the accolades it received at the end. When Burn is up and running properly, they can't be touched and in Rob Sas they have the ultimate guitar god!.... or train driver.
The Swiss Chalet, Swindon - December 16
The Burn Boys are back in town! Frosty Swindon on a Saturday night but the regulars expected it to get hot & sweaty at The Chalet when the band hit the stage.
But it was a difficult gig in many ways. Johnny noticed an "M4 closed" warning and told the others just in time for all three to choose an alternative route. This was lucky as the delay would have led to a cancelled gig. Band friend Steve confessed he'd spent 3 hours trying to get home earlier in the day. Unluckily for guitarist Rob Sas, he'd lent out his Tom-Tom satellite nav to Kathy so was reduced to map reading. Anyone who knows Rob will recognise that with his contact lenses in, he has the vision of mole so it was especially admirable that he was able to feel his way round the country and turn up on time. Ross Elder, a man who has no need of such tom-tom foolery used his own initiative but drove round via Lechlade, thus adding twenty miles unnecessarily. Laughing Johnny Heywood and a man who uses sat nav to walk to his garage, found the shortest route and arrived relaxed, fresh and ready to rock.
Regular faces like Natasha, Pete & Ben were in the front seats and good old boys Charlie and Alan were sitting just beyond. It was excellent to see this faithful group of friends who obviously hadn't anything better to do on a cold Saturday night. The band thanks them nonetheless.
Kicking off with In A Broken Dream, the band quickly hit a level. Sadly, it was not as high a level as they would have wished for. It was a little under par and a trifle lacklustre. Maybe the boys were pacing themselves? However, a short while later, it seemed as if this level was the standard the evening was going to stay at.
Ross offered some assistance at this point. "Is your bass out of tune?" he ventured recklessly into dangerous territory.
"No," quipped bassist Johnny H. "It's your electronic drum enhancement. There's so much bass frequency and 'whoomff' (technical term) coming off it that it's it's interfering with my mighty bass sound."
It's to his his credit that Ross immediately was concerned enough to reduce the big bottom end and the whole sonic spectrum changed. Ross's bass drum kicked like a mule and even Johnny was impressed.
"Yes, it's true that I prefer him to use brushes or possibly even small bongos un-amplified but this time he got it so good that I didn't need to turn him down when he wasn't looking as I usually do."
Robby Sas was quiet tonight in a verbal way but chose instead to let his guitar do his talking for him. He threw out a short intro for Blind Man which caught Ross out as he usually likes to have a little nap before the song proper and this caused him to wake up with a start. The band closed the set with favourite, Black Night and it was played well until Rob's comedy ending led to a shambolic close. Of the two riffs in the song, he chose the wrong one leading to an unrecoverable train wreck.
Johnny helpfully suggested, "After 13 years playing this song, how can you forget it? Are you going senile?"
Rob touched with a riposte, "Bollox, you still can't get the Space Truckin' riff right in the third verse!"
Such repartee is all part of the Burn boys wacky humour and they thrive on it. Hopefully they will have started talking to each other by next week.
The Peartree Bridge Hotel, Milton Keynes - November 18
Tonight's gig was the first time the band had played at this venue and it seemed more suitable for a middle of the road duo rather than a racing, raging rock 'n' roll band such as Burn but it was too late to turn back. However, it all turned out right nice which was a pleasant surprise - the audience were used to great bands here and welcomed the Burn Blokes and their particular brand of classic rockular jottings.
It was decided that a slightly poppier start might be in order so the old chestnut Get It On was brought out of mothballs and aired. It was a good choice and was quickly followed by In A Broken Dream and the audience was completely on the band's side.
Once again, Ross had chosen to be totally acoustic tonight but The Critic's money is on electronic enhancement next time the band plays here. Surprisingly, Rob Sas, a man not known for moderation, used his combo despite the size of the venue which leads this scribe to assume the boy's back is just not up to carting around the weight of the old Marshall stack of joy. Rob was concerned about his sound and was anxious that the excess bass frequencies he was producing during a Self-Righteous Bros gig the night before would not be repeated as there were frail old men in the audience and even Johnny admitted to hearing and feeling certain bowel-loosening notes which he could have done without.
"I've done away with the bass," Rob happily shared with anyone within the Milton Keynes area.
Johnny took exception to this and complained that his bass was an integral part of the totally unique yet traditional sound of a classic rock band. "No, no, I meant the bass on my amp," protested the Rob'd one but it was too late and an awful fight started. The two were barely speaking as the second half started and no prisoners were taken as The Peartree rocked out till exactly 11pm when the band stopped dead as they'd been threatened with a fine if they exceeded this magic hour.
It's this kind of passion that endears the band to it's fans and long may it continue we say, if the audio results are the kind that the band gave off tonight. What's more, they got paid and re-booked!
Rock and roll, Jim, but not as we know it.
Red Lion, Langley - November 11
This was a new venue to the band and on arrival, it seemed as if they had walked into a trap of the middle-of-the-road-duo's-only variety. A scary prospect for three rocking dudes intent on carnage, mayhem and scary music but the boys showed no fear as they kicked off the nights entertainment.
"We do our own thing, Man and we don't compromise for anyone or anything ever!" said a defiant Johnny Heywood with a snarl. "Well, unless the manager tells us to turn down, of course because we don't want to offend the man paying us.... oh, and the neighbours too. It's not nice to be too loud if there are young families nearby trying to get some sleep..... and there was a dreadfully nice old couple at the front table who requested a Max Jaffa number and it seemed a little rude not to attempt it so we did it and I rather liked it despite Rob's chords and Black Sabbath solo instead of the violin part."
Yes, the Burn Pop Band is nothing if not versatile so they began with a rather delightful version of Hotel California which more than suited the boys' style. Johnny felt he was accurately reproducing the Don Henley vocal style as only he can but Band Groupie Sarah's hand signals from the audience implied all was not well. Later on, in the break she gave her professional opinion of the singists attempts. "That was shite! You sounded like a 12 year old," she explained in hushed gaul tones.
Attempts were made to re-dress the balance in favour of the "rock" and the volume crept up accordingly. All attempts to get Ross onto his brushes were met with a puzzled expression as it's military sized sticks or nothing with this boy. The only brushes Ross knows abut are the ones he has with the law and they are not quiet either!
Against all expectations, the band won over the audience with their fiery brand of boogie and even the temporary Manageress seemed pleased and promised to re-book due to punter pressure. Many locals were really happy and surprised at having a real life sweaty rock band in their midst and generously heaped praise upon the boys.
Rob had admitted before the start that it seemed like a "gig from hell" and he's played a few of those in his time, let me tell you, so he was mighty happy at what he saw as a good result.
"Yes," he beamed. "It shows that there's no audience that we can't appeal to or win over. If I can book us into some nice Men's Clubs or some Darby & Jones venues then I think we can really clean up!"
Look out for the band on the Age Concern website or at a Home near you.
The Wheatsheaf, Leighton Buzzard - November 10
Over 4 months since the band played here for the first time and the weather was the main difference. Whilst Johnny's black shorts were still being talked about because he was "too hot to get into jeans", this time it was wet, cold and very dark. Would the music be the same? Would he still be as hot?
After soundchecking the mighty bass guitar, one helpful punter advised him that the bass was going "plunk" and really could do with a more dynamic sound. At this, Johnny burst into tears. "I like my sound, you bastard," he screamed right back - after the guy had left.
Ross was totally acoustic which was surprising, given the size of the venue - no electronic enhancement for the rhythm man tonight. Strangely enough, Robby "Bob the Knob" Sas was of a similar frame of mind and brought along his Line 6 combo instead of his mighty Marshall which would have caused great trouser flapping amongst the public. "What a great sound," he enthused, his head only 6 inches from the speakers. "Really?" said Johnny. "I didn't realise you were plugged in!"
That must have hurt.... but not half as much as the news Johnny received at half time. It started with a powerful version of Stormbringer and all seemed well. However, thanks to some critical observations about the PA "distorting", Johnny was devastated and spent an inordinate amount of time adjusting it and finally gave up and just turned the volume up. Thirty minutes later, he complained that he was losing his voice!
Reaction was guarded tonight and not as enthusiastic as last time but the comments at the end partly restored the boys' faith. One helpful guy rushed to tell Johnny, "Your bass playing's shit!" Well, the poor bass boy was again, close to tears and was about to explain what he thought of this rude individual. "Err, I mean, your bass playing's THE shit," he quickly corrected himself and the man they call Bass Bloke had his honour satisfied.
Hey Ho - onwards and upwards.
The Oaks, West Hyde - October 29
"Two gigs in consecutive nights is a tour," says defiant Johnny Heywood. This often means that the band are gig ready and hardened like fine tempered steel, ready to do battle against the forces of namby pamby boy-band rock. However, it also can be that the boys are a wee bit tired and can't get it up like they used too, rock-ularly speaking. Which would it be tonight?
Hmmm, sadly it was a bit more of the latter than the former. A small audient didn't help although regulars such as Teeny Weeny, Al, Colin & Sue, Steve & Ally kept the clap-o-meter level at a respectable level. Johnny H. said later he normally feels like a God of Rock but today appeared to be simply a fat man in need of a haircut. Though his legendary, incendiary bass cut a path straight through the foliage of mediocrity, he failed to reach the heights and simply explored the lower depths of his talent.
The set list had a bit of everything in it with selections from the whole scope of the Burn songbook so at least the regulars didn't get too bored.
Rob Sas agreed that the band didn't hit it's stride but was happy on a personal note. He had hit an all time new World's Speed Record by playing 456 notes per minute during the play out section of Mistreated and felt he could still better this in the near future. "Yes," the pneumatic note player announced. "It's a dream come true as I have now overtaken famous Swedish guitar player Yngwie Malmsteen who has been a big mentor of mine and I aim to beat the 500 npm by the end of the year or die in the attempt."
Fighting talk, indeed but it's what we've come to expect from this maverick musician who puts his playing out on a limb every time he straps on a guitar and the World thanks him for it.
Finally, drummer Ross Elder talked about the gig in a more philosophical way. "Yeah, it was shite," he mused, quoting Jean Paul Sartre. "But that's the thing with this band. You never know what you'll get. I like to think that's rock 'n' roll."
The Gordon Arms, High Wycombe - October 28
Back in High Wycombe and back at the former Burn stronghold of The Gordon Arms. Some of the regulars from last week were not there but many others were and the chaps decided to avoid repeating numbers as much as possible. Indeed, this worked so well that many hardened followers were overheard-
"Wow, they haven't played this for a long time."
"I cried when I heard this one again."
"What's this shite? I don't know it."
Well, you can't please everyone and the Burn Boys know it, so they went out to please no-one and, strange as it seems, it was a winning formula. Johnny admitted that "when we start, I am oblivious to the audience and I am simply in the moment, playing to the gods of rock 'n' roll."
This sounded like claptrap but the people lapped it up. Ross was in high spirits and was determined to prove to everyone that he was more than just a drummer! Sadly, he used the drums to try and demonstrate this and it merely served to emphasise that he IS a drummer and should just stick to that and not try and hurt himself. At the end of a towering version of Rock 'n' Roll, he teased with a "will he, won't he" drum solo hint but he took the easy road out and brought the number to a close.
Johnny utilised the ancient and the modern by playing the first half on his mighty 1958 Fender Precision Bass and the second on the SEI 6 string bass by way of complete contrast. Funnily enough, no-one noticed the difference so this must be attributable to his absolutely consistent bass playing and fanatical unvarying following of the groove. Incredible! It's nights like this when you'd swear there was a fourth member of the band playing along - inaudible perhaps, but a powerful presence nonetheless and filling the sound out like a giant effervescent sonic ghost-octopus.
Guitarist, Rob Sas, no stranger to the spirit world himself, counted the band off and suggested an early version of Burn. This is a number which is not a regular but is always welcome like a friendly old Great-Uncle bouncing you upon his knee whilst blowing a great big raspberry on your belly button. Just like that jolly fellow, there was nothing PC about this rocking version and Rob contravened all Health & Safety regulations with a dangerous display of guitar histrionics and axe work that bordered on illegal. Fortunately, no-one was killed in this musical mayhem and the worst hit will be out hospital by the 10th.
After the gig, the boys discussed the possibility of a couple of new tunes but The Critic says "steady. Let's not get carried away."
Yeah, that's fairly rock 'n' roll.
The Black Horse, Kidlington - October 22
What can be said about this gig on a Sunday night?
Not much actually, as it was a very lack lustre affair with two thirds of the band not firing on any cylinders at all! Rob and John had a Self Righteous Brothers gig after the Belle Vue at Rob's local, The Crown in Ley Hill, that saw Rob getting home at about 4am.
The band did their first number at the end which, you could hear a pin drop...... It was as if the band wasn't there! Indeed, at this point they all wished they were at home with a glass of vino or three.
The boys soldiered on and Ross was heard telling Rob to "wake up" during one of the songs. It almost worked... He woke up long enough for a good version of "While my guitar gently weeps" then nodded off for the rest of the gig.
Ross later complained that he was unable to fire the band... Some confusion arose as to what he meant and John took it literally and defended his corner! Rob knew what he meant but was too tired to say anything. Ross was right....
All in all, the band played on auto-pilot with Ross doing his best to inspire enthusiasm but he gave up and who can blame him, given the non reaction of regular pub goers and his tired band mates?
Definitely not a classic!
The Bel Vue - October 21st
With 2 gigs coming up in as many days, it was important that The Burn beat rock group utilised their entire catalogue of tune-ular songs. To this end, drummer Ross Elder compiled a list on 2 sheets of A4 paper ripped out of his son's school homework jotter and the lads slavishly followed this.
What a result! A stunning gig which many who attended called "stunning". Beginning with the opening number, the Burn Boys reached to hidden depths, to highest heights and to far off countries which most of us only dream about visiting, musically speaking. This was a Euro-tour, a package holiday in Fuengerolla, a cottage in Snowdonia and a fortnights ski-ing in Aviemore all in the space of 2 hours in a pub in High Wycombe.
Or so it seemed.
Such camaraderie - it was as if they were born to be in a band together. Mighty Ross Elder led the boys through the favourites and a few numbers that haven't been seen or heard for a while. The Bel Vue was packed and many familiar faces were there such as Colin & Sue, requesting Empty Rooms but not getting it as Johnny & Rob had forgotten the middle bit. Sue and Sarah introduced Christine to her first Burn gig and Sarah celebrated her 24th birthday on this night of nights - far better than some big dinner at a posh restaurant! Al appeared with Teeny Weeny for the first time in months and realised it was just the same as last time and so had missed nothing.... actually, I'm not sure if that was a reference to the band or Teeny!
The band hit new energy levels tonight and took 2 encores. There would have been more but Johnny & Rob had to race away to a Self Righteous Brothers midnight gig over in Ley Hill.
Very bloody rock 'n' roll.
Red Lion, Twickenham - October 14
Since the chaps played here in April, the venue has had a change of management and has had a facelift to become a really fantastic venue.
The stage area has increased which suits Johnny, as his area has increased too, and the house PA was being operated by soundman, Dave Soundman, who ensured a fabulous, clear sound. Indeed, Ross's wife Sue, proclaimed "it sounded fantastic" and she's heard the same old tunes many times before and so we can rely on her as a totally trustworthy critic of impeccable credentials.... or tipsy - sometimes it's just a fine line.
Robbie Sas, guitarist with more than a few gigs under his belt, favoured his Line 6 combo tonight instead of his mighty Marshall of joy. "Yes," laughed the laughing, rocker man. "I really don't need the old fashioned amplifier when I can use my modern, slim-line equivalent with state of the art digital modelling sounds. Plus, at my age I can barely lift the bloody Marshall since I did my back in and my hands are hurting again and I've got tinnitus. In the ears - the very worst place to get it. Other than that, all's kool."
Smiling Johnny Heywood, with more than a few pounds under his belt, settled for his mighty Ashworth amplifier and his ageing '62 Precision bass. No problems there but Johnny himself proved less than top notch. "I haven't sung all week and I never bothered to warm up. As a result of this foolish folly, I over-sang which means I shouted and my voice went all queer like. I had to fake it for the rest of the set. Sadly, no-one noticed the difference and it's makes me wonder why I bother". Happily, drummer Ross cheered up the rasping bass man by declaring "you were totally great tonight, mate." The critic can only hope that he checked his own alcohol level before driving home.
Drummer Boy Ross, with more than a few drinks under his belt used his happy face tonight which was the result of a great sound on stage and his Tama kit has never sounded better. He set out to prove why Burn rate him as one of the two best drummers they have ever had and by god, there were few doubters tonight. Rhythm after pattern followed, often seamlessly and you could set your watch by this man's faultless time keeping. So much so that as the clock struck midnight, the Human Metronome crashed his last cymbal and brought the concert to a halt. A second more and the band would have forfeited their right to live or worse, to not get paid. Well done the Drummie Boy!
The crowd rose as one and applauded the mighty efforts of the three rocking caballeros and everyone, it seemed had an opinion.
Wellington Arms, Watford - September 30
First time at a new venue for Burn so the lads were looking forward to sharing their music with the Watford punters. Wisely, Rob & Johnny had selected their smaller rigs for this assault as the pub was not known as an out and out rocker abode and so some slightly softer musical options would need to be slotted in.
But the Burn Boys are nothing if not versatile. However, starting with a nice, steady version of Get It On, they realised they'd strayed into a trap! Aghast looks of horror greeted the end of this song and the tried and tested follow up, You Really Got Me failed to have the desired effect. The audience moved further away from the stage area, such as it was and the chaps had to have a radical re-think.
The answer was their famous version of Hotel California which always slays any hardened and cynical pub critic and so they launched into it. It was good, too, but Watford didn't care and a solitary handclap rewarded Rob for his sterling guitar solo, so accurately reproducing what it took The Eagles two lead guitarists to play!
Energy levels fell rapidly after this though the boys still gave occasional glimpses of what they can do. It was decided that they would stand or fall by doing what they do best and so the Wellington got the full Burn treatment.
However, they didn't want it and gave it back, save from one stalwart fellow who thanked the band for their music at the end of the night.
Well, it just shows you can't lose them all.
The Rising Sun, Slough - September 22
The Rising Sun - a great rock club and the band were keen to do a better job than August's rather lack lustre gig.
Things started well with familiar opening number Stormbringer setting the pace and the crowd seemed to lap up the sounds crashing off the stage. Some were keen enough to dance, always a worrying sign when folks cavort around to Space Truckin' or some other undanceable rock tune in front of the band, mere inches away from collision.
Rob had Big Pal Bob in attendance, visiting from the States and was keen to be on form or simply not to suck. He was succeeding too with Strat-tastic tones flowing from his gear.
Johnny was on form too with his mighty Fender Bass of happiness supplying deep joy of a fundamental type plus singing across the vast spectrum of sound, from a hushed, angelic whisper to a manly lion's roar. Is there a better singer around? Well, yes of course there is, actually. Loads in fact but they don't usually work as cheaply as Johnny!
Ross used his own portable PA system to make sure he could be heard in Leeds. He is happy now to take a solo regularly in Rock 'n' Roll, the famed Zeppelin number, and now, in fact, it seems impossible to stop him! Stand back & enjoy or simply go to the bar... but don't hurry as Ross has lots to say, musically speaking.
So all was looking good for a classic Burn gig. What could go wrong?
We hear first from Johnny. "The first I knew something was amiss was when the mike smacked me in the face! There I was, singing intently with my eyes shut, emoting from every orifice and pow! My mouth hurt. I looked to see some fat slag crashing over the monitor and into Rob's gear. My drink was spilt too, all over Ross's brand new drum carpet - a Persian rug if I'm not mistaken."
Ross joined in. "Yes, I'd just got it and my drums were looking great sitting on top of my pretty patterned carpet. Now it's got a large orange juice stain and I'm not happy," he said, unhappily. "Thank god Johnny wasn't on the red wine!"
However, the real damage had been done to Rob's midi pedal board. Being of an early 1950's manufacture, it had seen many a rant from Rob and had taken more than it's fair share of bootings over the years. It had been repaired more times than anyone could recall but now it had given up. The Lard Ass Lady had defeated it and it refused to budge from a Country & Western setting Rob seldom used.
The band took a 20 minute recess to discuss alternatives.
"Give up," said Rob.
"What about your famous analogue pedals which you carry as spares to use when the pedal board breaks, as has happened in the past?" queried Johnny, dreading the answer.
Sadly it turned out that Rob had omitted to bring batteries for his back up system and so had to carry on with the one unsuitable and overly loud setting which would have been controllable had Rob's guitar volume control not rusted tightly shut through years of non-use and his amp had forgotten how to work without echo echo echo.
Incredibly, the brave band lads continued to the end and no-one was any the wiser except Lard Ass and her boyfriend who were ejected from the venue by the bouncers. Johnny had lost his temper when no apology was forthcoming and the band were told that it wasn't Fatso's fault - it was Johnny's drink that was spilt, not theirs! Johnny was indignant and very upset when he realised that he had to buy another drink himself!
American Bob got up and jammed a blues with Rob taking notes from the other side of the stage. Some really tasteful blues flowed from a masters fingers and the guys all encouraged Bob to take up playing again. The audience gave him a big ovation, too, which the band cut short in case Bob asked for some money.
It is believed that Rob has recently purchased a new midi pedal and must now be persuaded to get some batteries too... just in case.
The Crown, Lechlade - September 8
Smurf & Mandy's wedding and what better place to have the reception than The Crown? What better band to have play than Burn? ("Well, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Free, The Stones....." - editor)
But that's not important right now. People remarked afterwards how much better the band was than 2 weeks ago. There is one overriding reason for this - alcoholic intake. Not by the band but the audience. Here is the proof that Burn sounds better after a good drink!
The last gig review was heavily criticised for using too many Mother Nature analogies in a rock setting despite the obvious day to day dangers inherent in both walks of life. No such nonsense here today. Instead, the facts will be reported as they happened, when they happened and who's fault it was.
Thanks to a traffic snarl up out in the wilds of Oxford, the gig started a full 40 minutes late but that had only heightened the band's rock fury. Snarling Rob Sas quickly marked out his turf directly on the path to the toilet and, as always, settled down to equally play his guitar & fight any loo-bound punter who came close. This is always very entertaining and he was aided and abetted by Natalie & Pete who blocked the whole pub with an intricate road block of pub chairs. It made it impossible for anyone to get past including the bar man retrieving empty glasses from Pete 'n' Nat's table. A fight ensued. Marvellous!
Johnny locked himself in his usual corner and all that came out was his sweet voice and friendly bass. No punter abuse from this side of the stage and he looked content. If he got bored then he could always watch Rob threaten passers by with his guitar neck.
Rob pulled out all the stops for Catch The Rainbow, a band fave and this was a truly great version today. Even Ross "seen-it-all-before" Elder was seen applauding the Sas man at the end of the song. With no problems from his comedy gear today, Rob was in fine form and relished the gig. Ross was also a happy bunny and treated us to another drum dissertation at the end of Rock 'n' Roll.
The band encored with Doctor Doctor and then, because it had been so much fun, Johnny kicked off with the Peter Gunn Theme. Sadly, due to a time delay between stage right and the rest of the stage area, this was heard as Baby, Please Don't Go and the resulting train crash between two completely separate rhythms led to a whimpering end rather than a majestic one.
The Crown, Lechlade - August 27
Two gigs in different towns on the trot constitutes a proper tour and the Burn boys were "greased up and ready to fry" from the night before. Johnny observed that "it was just like the old days except we all looked a bit older, our playing was better, our gear were more modern, the singing was stronger and we did different songs... plus we no longer like each other."
It takes more than personal hatred to stop the Burn boys when they're in this sort of fighting mood and they kicked off with familiar opener Stormbringer. Rob's Stratty guitar riffing & soaring like a Great Golden Eagle on high, flying over a musical Highland Glen before swooping to sink it's rocking talons into some unfortunate prey for a feast of Rhythm & Blues. Ripping the songs apart, he devours leaving only the carcass of a tune and uses the meat to feed his offspring like a concerned ornithological parent. We can only hope that there are some musical conservationists out there who can show the same concern as the RSPCB , to keep Rob safe in his natural habitat of the wilds of his flat in Bucks.
Ross Elder, himself no stranger to the savagery that Mother Nature inflicts on us, musically speaking, was on a manhunt of his own. After last nights less than ideal stage conditions, he needed the fresh kill of a great show to satisfy his blood lust. No need of a pack mentality for this hungry predator as he ruthlessly gorged himself on a diet of meaty percussive rock and rhythmic potatoes. Ever the professional, Ross performed one of his few (but always welcome) drum solos and this was lapped up by an enthusiastic audience of carnivores.
The bass guitar is an instrument that owes it's origins right back to a caveman's club and it's in this context that Johnny Heywood mostly uses it. Bludgeoning his listening public with deep settings of a Fender variety, Johnny trapped, killed and skinned all within the space of a Whitesnake cover song. Vocally, this mighty man is without peer apart from the guys who are better than him but few have his killer instinct. Murdering his way through the best of ZZ Top and a rather tasty version of Rock 'n' Roll , he left us all with a feeling of being well fed and this was only the warm up.
The band are definitely at their peak these days and are firing on all cylinders. Next gig sees a return to this venue for big pal Smurf's wedding celebrations.
The Ley Hill Music Festival - August 26
Following the Good Old Boys is never a prospect to relish as they are one fine, rocking band with two great guitarists in Simon Bishop and Peter Parks plus Alan Barrett on vocals and Richard Hudson on drums. Sadly, bassist Nic Simper had been sidelined through injury and we all wish him a speedy recovery. The band kicked off their set and rocked the crowd in the Saturday afternoon sunshine.
So, how do you follow this great band & their two guitar gods? The answer is with one Rob Sas. Yes, Rocking Robwie J. Sassellesteen, to give him his full name, is able to do things with one guitar that other bands just cannot reach. Sometimes they don't want it but non-the-less, Robwie has it in reserve for them should they ever want to hire it off him at a reasonable rate. Licks, chops, grooves and heavy metal thunder all come smoothly off his mighty guitar like torrents of abuse from Bob Geldof's mouth but without an Oirsh accent. Absolutely marvellous!
Backing him in a bass-tastic way was Johnny Wayward Heywood who also gave a strong vocal performance and backed up the claim, by his Mother, that he is amongst the best vocalists around at the moment as far as the Ley Hill green just-in-front-of-the-pub area goes. A welcome return to live playing from his 1975 Jazz Bass not used in anger for a couple of years. Completely marvellous!
Ross Elder was not about to get left behind either although, by definition, the drummer is behind the others in the band. However, musically, he was in front despite coping with a difficult musical situation called "sloping platform." This hazardous predicament is caused by the stage area, or "back of a lorry" in this case, being askew to the precise, spirit level-like set up required by the drummer Elder Boy. This can cause all sorts of playing problems and can lead to tantrums and bad tempers. Fortunately, our Rossy is made of sterner stuff and he simply grit his teeth and got on with the job in a more limp wristed way. Totally marvellous!
The Rising Sun, Slough - August 19
Back at the Rising Sun for the first time since April 2005, the boys felt they had a lot of ground to cover.
The audience seemed different this time - the positive plethora of Polish people who contributed much enthusiasm last time were not in evidence but it didn't matter as Burn were out to regain lost ground.
At least, they started that way. Stormbringer opened the set as usual and the band kicked into force 10 on the rockular scale. Johnny was in excellent voice and the mighty Precision bass was never used so much in anger.
Ross Elder, a drummer of no fear and some talent to boot, wielded his joy sticks of percussive delight and wrought out a canon load of drum-tastic rhythms that went on endlessly..... until he got a bit bored and eased up.... then stepped up the pace for a rare and fabby drum solo to finish the evening in style. Quel finesse!
Rob Sas, guitarist and rock god, was in happier mood than the last gig and seemed more content with his Marshall rig tonight rather than his Line 6 amplifier, equipment which had been teasing him recently in a "will I work, will I not?" sort of way. Tonight Rob took full advantage of his trusty old Marshall to really let rip. A friend of Johnny's, Frank from No. 21, admitted that he thought "Rob could really play". No amount of persuasion from Johnny would change his opinion but he thought it best not to tell the Sas man for fear of him getting a bigger head than normal.
The boys played well over 2 hours tonight but didn't take an encore. Finishing with Rock 'n' Roll, they left the stage area a little disappointed with the reaction and the fact that tomorrow's barbecue gig at The Prince of Wales had been cancelled due to the weather.
Three minutes after leaving the venue, Johnny was back to collect his bass, left behind in the rush to leave. ("Thanks, Rob")
The Gordon Arms, High Wycombe - August 12th
Surely Shum Mishtake! The Gordon Arms? The band hadn't played there since... well, they couldn't really remember and the records don't stretch back that far. Johnny remembered playing there in 1999 when singer Gary Barden (Michael Schenker Group) made a guest appearance. Some of the best gigs in Burn's career happened here.
"Yes, it was like coming home," ventured a bleary eyed Ross Elder. "It hasn't changed a bit.... mind you, neither have we."
Well, musically speaking, that is correct and the boys gave the audience what they wanted - what they needed. Come to think of it, this was probably 95% of what they played last time.
"Well, it's Classic Rock, innit? It's not supposed to change," reasoned reasonable Ross Elder in a logical way. "It's just that it's so long ago that the tunes were all a bit newer and less classic last time we were here."
The Heywood/Elder rhythm section was as tight as ever, propelling the songs along and giving the driving force to allow guitarist Robbie Sas complete freedom to express himself, guitar-ally. Rob, not one to be pressured by conventional playing or restricted by western musical values, gives vent to his emotions depending on how he is feeling. Just watching the Sas man play is enough to make you understand when he is feeling fury, peace, humour, irritation, frustration.... usually all in the same song. However, tonight Rob admitted there was a technical problem with his amp which was bothering him.
"Bloody thing was playing up again," he complained. "You know, I could have been bigger than Ritchie Blackmore (fabled Deep Purple guitarist) if only I had better gear! Just when I want to take my audience on a one way magic carpet ride to oblivion and back, the bottom falls out of my sound! It's really frustrating as normally it's the sound that falls out of my bottom that the guys complain about."
However, there were no complaints from the audience and the band played long into the night which must have been nice for the neighbours whose complaints originally led to the band being barred from here for so long.
This should lead to re-book later this year and we all hope the venue will witness once again some of the great gigs Burn played here in the 90's.
Prince of Wales, Little Kingshill - July 9, 2006
On the morning of this outdoor gig, the event looked certain to be cancelled as the sky was grey and sheets of rain were descending. By 11am, the band received word that the event would still be going ahead and indeed by the time they arrived at the venue, the clouds had cleared and the sun shone, albeit intermittently but when it did, it was warm enough for Rob to worry about his choice of T-shirt.
The garden at the Price of Wales is quite small and surrounded by houses, some of which overlook the pub, so the boys were concerned that they would be upsetting people with their brand of music at the volume they play. “No, don’t worry about that”, said Gary the landlord. “They will all be here!” And indeed they were.
The band opted for a gentle start to the gig with Get It On and Summer of 69, gradually increasing the rockiness of their set.
Both Rob and John chose their smaller combos for the afternoon with John feeding his bass sound through the PA system for added volume and clarity. “You can never get enough of my bass”, said John. “If it’s turned on at all, it’s far too loud” said Rob. The boys were certainly in good mood and there were some very humorous moments between them.
The band settled into a great gig with a BBQ and beer flowing freely. At half time, the boys enjoyed the culinary delights Gary had to offer……sausages and hamburgers.
With fans Tina and Ally, Colin, Sue and their friends, Ross’s wife Sue and daughter Alana, John’s Sarah and her daughter in attendance as well as a busy pub, the band completed a great afternoon of music and made many new friends. With a cheer for more at the end of the gig at 4:30pm the band had to finish as Rob was on a mission to get to the airport before the close of check in for yet another jaunt to Spain! He was packed, paid and gone before the band noticed.
So successful was this gig that Gary immediately booked the band for another outdoor BBQ gig on August 20th, which the band is looking forward to.
The Plough & Harrow, Aylesbury - July 1st
Barely 24 hours after the fantastic Wheatsheaf gig in Leighton Buzzard, the Burn Blokes regrouped at regular haunt The Old Plough & Harrow. Tonight was just as muggy and humid as last night - a situation that prompted bassist Johnny Heywood to wear his attractive black shorts and sandals for the second night on the trot which did not please the other Band members. However, as diplomatic as ever and wishing to please everyone, Heywood removed his sandals and performed like some sort of rock 'n' roll Sandie Shaw. As it happened, this pleased no-one.
"Smelly feet," remarked a passing fan. "More cheese between his toes than Sainsbury's cold counter."
Heywood ignored these grumblings and did what he does best; rocking bass and rocking vocals, usually simultaneously at the same time.
Rob Sas, known as the Nutter Magnet, stayed true to his calling and positioned himself carefully between the entrance to the gents and the door to the garden thus ensuring he was bound to get jostled by beer carrying music lovers en route to where the band sounds best (outside) or by relief seeking males in no mood to wait whilst Mr Sas displays virtuosic knowledge of the Blackmore-esque Traumatic Minor scale. Indeed, Rocking Rob had cause to take issue with one such fan heading bar-wards who failed to negotiate the 9" gap which had been left for him to pass between the sharp end of a Fender Strat and the nearest tables. After a particular cutting, caustic comment, Rob settled into the intro to a storming version of Still I'm Sad, keeping an eye out for the reaction but the offender just assumed Rob was singing to himself and carried on. Now, anyone who attends a Burn gig knows that the Sas man sings not one note EVER and so the man was clearly delusional.
For Rob, the evening was mixed as his latest love, the Line 6 amplifier, gave off certain sounds which were not in the Sas book of Rock. It appears that a visit to the Line 6 Health Clinic could be in order and this was disappointing in an amp so new. Maybe the heat got to the poor thing. After all, the amount of notes that it has to reproduce in any Burn gig could cause stress overload to any machine.
Ross Elder gave off vibes of a calming nature and rhythms of a jungle vibe and really had a rocking night all in. After the music was finished he admitted that the weekend had been a "very pleasant musical time."
The band does seem to be playing exceedingly tightly these days and has a comfortable quality about it that hasn't always been there - like an old pair of shoes used for the gardening, slightly soiled and smelly but always gives pleasure.
The Wheatsheaf, Leighton Buzzard - June 30th
Johnny Heywood checked his gear list and found he had forgotten to load the gig bag with the mics, leads and an assortment of talent enhancing devices without which he would be powerless. Unfortunately, he did the check at Junction 19 of the M25, some 25 minutes into his journey. This necessitated a swift 180 degree turn and a hair raising drive back to Heywood Towers to get the offending absent item. By the time he reached the Wheatsheaf it was 9 o'clock but as he struggled with the gear through the audience it was revealed that the band didn't start till at least 9-30 as it was a midnight finish. Relief!
It was over 130 degrees centigrade in the venue tonight so Johnny chose the black shorts and soft shoes much to Rob's & Ross's disgust. "But we're a serious rock band with a capital "R" and we need to look the part as well as sound like gods of thunder," complained guitarist Rob Sas, in rock 'n' roll black jeans, black T-shirt and serious Thor attitude. "You look like a prat."
Drummer Ross Elder was more helpful. "You can't play like that. You look like a tosser."
Johnny argued that the serious rock fans would only concern themselves after hearing his dulcet tones and mighty bass guitar. His appearance, he felt was also showing a good, healthy disregard for the audience which was a characteristic much used by rock acts of the past. "Yeah, you didn't see bloody Led Zep worrying about what their audience thought as Jimmy Page droned on for 25 minutes in a DADGAD guitar tuning.... and Cream barely acknowledged their fans with half a day drum solo's and all. Sod 'em I say".
It's this brave attitude that gives Burn it's special place in the hearts of rock fans old & young. No namby pamby sing-a-longs with this band. Instead, the 3 caballeros gave one of their best performances and excited everyone at this great venue at which the band was making it's debut.
Rob Sas had upgraded his amp to the larger Line 6 combo and felt this was the way to go. "It's the way to go," he confirmed. "I'm louder, harder, faster and more powerful than ever. I'm a really happy guy... and so is my lady," he japed, barely concealing a F'naar. "As for the amp, it was ok, too."
Disregard for their audience coupled with this schoolboy innuendo is really the secret weapon that makes Burn tick. These are the main ingredients in a rocking pie of musical pleasure, spiced by three cordon blues chefs and served up with a platter of metal.
Not forgetting the incendiary drumming of Ross "Boy" Elder who drummed like a man about to get paid. Using what's left of his hearing on his left hand side, he used all his experience and advised Rob to "turn down, you bastard!" A finer balance was sought and the trio powered their way through 2 sets.
Of the newer numbers, only Still I'm Sad was played and it is one of the highlights in the first half. Indeed, the boys barely paused to catch breath with When A Blind Man Cries before raising the tempo again and again. A storming version of Catch The Rainbow was performed and brought the place down. Rob Sas was magnificent, leading the rhythm section through the complicated changes, up and down in intensity like a wild hurricane blowing itself to a crescendo then dying out like a summer breeze.
Finishing with title track Burn, the boys left the stage very tired but happy.
Black Horse, Kidlington - June 18
Surely not? The band at the same venue barely a week later? The answer is a very definite "no" according to guitarist Roberto Sas.
"No, no, not at all," he explained revealingly. "Last week was a Fire gig and tonight is Burn. They really are quite different, you know. Ross made a set list out of songs not played last week and Johnny didn't wear his shorts so it was almost like 2 completely unrelated bands."
"I agree," laughed singer Johnny Heywood in a moody, yet not unattractive way. "I used a different bass guitar too so there was really hardly any similarity."
Rob used his Line 6 amp and announced that he was dissatisfied and would be upgrading to a larger version containing 2 x 12" speakers. In his opinion, the people of Kidlington deserved more than they got and if he had anything to do with it then neighbouring Thame and the County of Oxford would all benefit from his enhanced sound. "Too much is never enough," he barked widdling a fast Blackmore-esque run ending with a flurry of Malmsteen-ular Moronic Minor scales.
Ross Elder had heard it all before and never flinched from his main job of rhythmic power-driving. "Drumming is all I have, man. It's my life. If I didn't have this, I would have nothing."
This led to a swift blow on the back of the head from wife Sue, sitting only yards away from the Rocking Man and a stern reminder that he had much decorating still to do in the house and his three kids needed new shoes so "get off your fat bum!"
Johnny reckoned he was on 80% vocal power, 110% bass ability and 500% woman attraction mode. "Just don't tell the wife," he quipped safely out of earshot of his Woman. 45 miles out of earshot to be precise but even that was taking a chance.
Disappointing that more fans weren't there but that is the Burn way and we should be grateful that these weekend warriors are still doing it at the collective age of 145. ("God, are you sure?" - Johnny)
Black Horse, Kidlington – June 11
It was so hot tonight that Johnny H took to the stage wearing black shorts and no socks. It may not have been pretty but it was functional - and that best sums up the whole evening. The band was functional without reaching the parts other bands can't get at.
Johnny was not in great voice though the hot, humid conditions were very good for throats and larynxes although very bad for hair! Still, he struggled through and never let anything like not being able to reach the high notes bother him. Although not having played some of the newer songs since April, Johnny seemed to recall the way they went just as soon as he played a duff note. Marvellous recall!
Rockin' Robby Sas let nothing deter him from the perfect show tonight. Except perhaps a passing scantily clad frauline squeezing between him and a nearby table. Other than that, he kept his concentration up all night, intertwining lines of lead, harmonious chordal work and deft rhythmic fills to complete his musical night.
Ross Elder had an amplifier and by gum, he was going to use it! Refuting the accusation that he amplifies in order to simply be LOUDER, Basher Elder claims the electric enhancement merely gives him a larger palette of tones to choose. "Yes," laughed the laughing man. "Why have one snare drum sound when I can have 163 - all in the first song?" Such is the commitment of the man known as Drum Dude. "Plus, I paid for it so I'll bloody well use it!"
Good to see Alan in the audience throwing rotten tomatoes & a fine selection of cabbage. The band always values his critique and he is never slow to express his opinion.
Oddly enough, due to a fierce gigging schedule and a desire to make as much cash as possible, the band plays here again next Sunday. They promised not to repeat any songs in case someone goes twice.
The Oaks, West Hyde - May 21
This was the return of Burn at The Oaks for the first time in a few years. The last time the band played here, Paul Mallyon was on the drums and Ross was recovering from surgery on both of his hands. A very messy and nasty time, recalls his wife Sue.
The boys arrived at the venue to find a rather important football game being shown on the pub’s TV’s involving local team Watford’s promotion battle back into the Premier league. This meant that the scheduled kick off for the band would be delayed and yet they still had to set up in readiness. This they managed to do without interfering too much with the footie fans watching the game on TV, with one of the three screens directly behind where the band were to play.
So, then the game finished and the band were given the signal to start the gig. Off went the TV behind the band, leaving another two screens running in the pub but surprisingly, it wasn’t until the band were well into to the opening number of Stormbringer that a football fan took exception to the bands explosive start and gesticulated and shouted at them. Because the band were busy doing their job, he went almost unnoticed and decided the drums needed a kick, which he attempted to do but instead of making contact with Ross’s kit, he managed to stub his toe on the floor and missed completely! “Hope it hurt”, thought Ross.
The band played well and to their usual high standard but sadly, the pub wasn’t as busy as it could have been but that didn’t stop the boys doing what they do best. One comedy moment came during the intro to Mistreated which Rob regularly fluffs, giving John and Ross a good laugh. For once, Rob had the upper hand and got it spot on and so shocked was Ross that he asked for Rob to play the phrase again which he did, getting it right a second time! John was later heard saying, “we’ve only been playing that song for two years, it’s about time Rob got it right.”
The band continued to rock the late afternoon away and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Pub regular and band friend Elliot Tuffin came on during the second set to sing a couple of numbers, which is always good fun.
There were many familiar faces at the Oaks that afternoon. Rob’s woman, rock chick heroine Kathy, John’s intended Sarah, Colin and Sue, Teeny Weeny, Ali, Joe, Big Jim, Warren and his crew including Verna and Steve and even Rob’s duo partner Louise with her boyfriend Dave. Although not a classic Burn gig, it was a hot one, a good gig and the band seemed happy with their efforts.
With John and Rob having their own respective gigs that evening, the race was on to pack up, get paid and get out of the venue as soon as possible. That left Ross to pack and load up on his own once again.
The Red Lion, Twickenham - April 28th
Although Johnny had attended jam evenings here many times, this was the first time the band had appeared in anger.
Rob had his fave Stratocaster back from guitar hospital but it had needed a set up by top luthier Stuart Monks who fine-tunes all Rob's guitars using many years experience, a steady hand and a large supply of Mr. Sheen polish, applied liberally so that Rob's hands don't stick to the neck. Anyone who has heard the Axe Hero play will identify the breakneck soloing speed and blurred, flurry of fingers that are his trademark.
Rob's guitar is a 1960's Relic Model, custom made by Fender workmen and then left out in the rain and kicked around till it looks as if it is 30 years old. Oddly enough, Rob's actual 30 year old guitar has similar marks on it even though he cherished it carefully and put it away safely each night in a hard case. Such is the dichotomy of the Sas man!
Tonight was Johnny's birthday and Ross had decorated his stage area in balloons and streamers to show his admiration for the Bass Bloke. Mind you, the balloons were printed "party girl" so he may have been somewhat insincere in his praise. He played like a real drummer tonight without recourse to electronic enhancement and almost was almost certainly good enough to remain in the band till at least the next gig.
Johnny's bass seemed to have developed a dislike of being played hard and rattled a bit on the notes that he hit really hard. However, using the girlie, nancy-boy approach, he was able to get through the night unscathed.
The audience seemed a little unresponsive to the trio's
mighty sound. However, the band were offered another gig and as money was
mentioned, then it's almost sure to happen.
The Old Plough & Harrow, Aylesbury - April 15th
First gig of the year at The Old Plough and the first gig at
the Old Plough with The Burn line-up. Technically still a Fire gig, this mere
detail didn't stand in the way of a rocking set starting with an absolute
storming opener, Highway Star. The amazing thing was that both Johnny & Rob were
using their smaller combos - almost unknown outside middle-of-the-road club
dates! Well, the venue is a tad on the smaller side and so volume may have been
a little offensive to delicate ears. However, the familiar faces that greeted
the band was proof that the audience had already suffered severe hearing loss
so, as Rob observed, "turn the bugger up"!
Johnny was pleased with his Rickenbacker/Ampeg combination and felt that his already legendary sound was being reproduced, albeit on a quieter scale. However, his face fell when he attempted a short bass solo and the quieter volume revealed a wild, rattling sound emanating from the seemingly broken Ampeg amplifier. This was a devastating loss to the man who prefers to borrow 2p rather than split a 10p piece and a sure sign that the 15" speaker had been murdered by his bass guitar until he realised that Ross had left his spare snare drum on the stage and it was this that was rattling. My, how we all laughed!
Rockin' Robby Sas was just as violent on his own gear. Now with his old favourite Stratocaster which he'd gone back to, he was ready to take on the World and he started with Aylesbury. Although his combo did not move the air in the way his Marshall cabinets blew human beings over, it cut through clearly and went straight for the frontal lobe. Rob appeared slightly distracted at first and complained that he just wasn't "on tonight" but he soon recovered and a devastating version of Mistreated had him back to what he does best.
Ross provided much needed solidarity plus mirth in his creative intro to Are You Ready? This old Thin Lizzy number is driven along at breakneck speed and could have benefited with a 1-2-3-4 intro but sometimes the old, "all fall in when you can" approach works well too! The Critic noted Johnny's clever re-working of the lyrics into something much more original. However, he did promise to learn them for next time.
After the gig was over, it was agreed that it had been a
great night and a couple of texts from fans summed it all up...
"Thanks for a great gig - one of the best ever!" - Ally
"It was a fantastic night. Thanks a lot, Guys" - Teeny Weeny
The Swiss Chalet, Swindon - April 8th
Hoorah! Back to the Swiss Chalet. Boo! They've had to fit a sound level monitor. Oh dear!
As councils do, the local City Overlords had listened to Mrs Madge Miggins who had recently moved right next door to the busy pub and was "astonished" that you could hear sounds emanating from the Chalet, such as people talking, glasses clinking and a devil's spawn rock band playing LOUD music.
Indeed, the council set the sound level at 90db which would not even compete with the traffic on the road outside the venue which Burn managed to set off three times in the opening song whilst they felt their way in!
Out went Ross's sampled electronic assistance. Down went Johnny's bass and Rob's guitar. Down went the PA and the band turned the PA speakers away from the traffic lights which showed graphically how soon the power would cut out. Slowly, they got through the set with a power that rivalled the Hey Nonny Nonny Acoustic Folk Band who use an old jug for the bass parts.
Johnny invited the audience to "whisper along" with the songs and admitted it was un-nerving to hear so many people talking over the rocking sections. "Yes, normally we can drown the bastards out but with this limiter, we had to listen to conversations that we weren't part of. I lost the place several times listening to some guy telling a rather humorous story about a Scotsman, an Englishman and a rabbit called "Tabby". I should have been listening to Rob's solo but I wasn't sure if he was plugged in or not."
Ross Elder chose his brushes to drive the band along but he simply gave off less power than the famous Buddy Holly version of Everyday where drummer Jerry Alison slapped his knees. Actually, Ross didn't get such a good sound, now I mention it.
Guitarist Rob Sas stood next to his amp not so much to hear his Marshall cabinet as to feel it. "It was the only way I could tell if I was actually on or not," he complained, complainingly. "I just couldn't trust the little red light on the front. As for Johnny, the bass doesn't seem to set the limiter off so he was just as noisy, in a pro-rata sort of way. Bastard!"
The Critic, who attends every gig, was enthusiastic. "They looked like they were playing really well. However, I was at the bar and couldn't hear a bloody thing."
Plans are afoot to do the next gig on acoustic instruments with Johnny using a megaphone and Ross playing bongos and tablas. One problem yet to be solved is Rob who has never seen an acoustic guitar and may well freak if he can't plug it into something.
The Black Horse, Kidlington- April 2nd
The first Burn gig proper since the chaps reformed in January
by doing a Fire date and enjoying it so much that they felt the world needed
some more. Such generosity is rare these days and the World responds with a
large "Thank you!" Probably.
Roberto Sas, an Englishman of Polish extraction currently taking out Spanish nationality, decided on his new Vox AC30 amplifier for a proper loud spanking. Mr Sas has a vast array of amplifiers to cover all necessary situations from quiet, intimate duo gigs to over the top metal extravaganzas but often with Rob, these amount to one and the same thing. His favourite Fender Stratocaster (a relic model) was in America having it's truss rod replaced after Rob's flamboyant style proved too much for the poor thing to cope with. However, his trusty old Mexican Strat was proving a more than adequate substitute for his mighty rhythm work and deft soloing ("Daft soloing, more like!" - Johnny)
Ross "Boy" Elder was easily the best drummer on stage tonight and proved it by playing along to every song. By his own admission, he was "not up to par" tonight but Ross's standards are far above the average percussion player. Just ask his Mum! Using his electronically enhanced sampled sounds which Johnny described as "loud", he drove the band along like a huge driving thing and never let up for a second. Well, apart from at the end of each song or else the audience wouldn't know when to clap.
Johnny Heywood, looking clean and sounding fresh, sang like he had been born to it and played bass at the same time thus dispelling the notion that men can only do one thing at a time. He stood and breathed at the same time which was particularly impressive and had the audience wondering how he managed it all whilst smiling. Mind you, no-one actually said it was any good but still...
Great to see Colin, Sue, Joe, Tina, Ally and Sarah in the audience and also great to see Johnny getting hit by the latter after a very funny remark he made about the French which she heard. Fortunately, she never heard what he said about her!
Next week Burn continue at Swindon's Swiss Chalet.