The Nags Head, High Wycombe, December 29
A new venue for the band but one that the individual members had all played often in their respective pasts.
It had been many years since Johnny had been in the building and was he surprised to see how it had changed. "It used to be a straight forward pub but now it's a bona fide rock venue with a stage, lights and music posters everywhere. Top place!"
Rob Sas, a man who has played everywhere including some venues not yet built, agreed. "I agree," he confirmed and later went on to say, "how great it was to have venues like this still around catering for live music."
As if to prove all this, the band fired on all cylinders. The combination of Ross's rich controlled yet reckless powerhouse drumming locked with the destructive yet creative bass playing of Johnny and the emotive yet shred like guitar of Roberto all added up to one thing - dangerous music in a safe environment exuding an air of excitement!
Many familiar faces were there to greet the Burn Boys. People who had made the long journey from The Belle Vue around the corner and others who had to use their cars to get here. Fantastic effort and one that was not lost on the band. Without these fans the band would be nothing. Without this selfless sacrifice, Burn would be meaningless. It's a spirit our forefathers knew about and it makes one proud to be associated with such a fine group of honest, hard working people. God bless them and protect them from the long night.
Other than that, Burn were inspired and probably outdid the gig a few days ago that was called "the best first half ever" by laughing Colin. Fifteen years in the making (next year), the fire still burns.
The Crown, Lechlade, December 26
The Penultimate of 2007 and an annual bash that has seen the Burn Boys at this venue on this day for the last few years. This year almost never happened due to complaints from the locals about "noise" but the band responded by using smaller combos and Ross set up his electronic drum kit for the first time!
He soon found out that although the sound was great and the volume could be controlled, there were certain songs that didn't suit the kit. This meant a certain trimming of the normal set list but not enough that anyone really noticed. In fact, the volume was so pleasant that Johnny took his ear plugs out! Very often in the past, he has sneaked them out during the last song for comparison purposes and this has usually ended in a near feint. This time, a reasonable level passed through his ears and all praised the new look/sound of Burn.
The audience seemed different from previous years too. Only a couple of familiar faces were there but those that were there seemed to enjoy the gig. A little more "workman like" than the band like but not a bad one and considering it very nearly didn't take place, the boys were happy.
All in all it seemed like a quiet end to the year but..... there was still one more gig looming..
The Peartree Hotel, Milton Keynes, December 22
The Christmas gig of 2007 so the boys were keen for it to be a good one.
"Don't go back on the M1 as it's all road works," said Drummer Guy Ross Elder. "I cut across and save miles and miles and there's a fog coming."
Dangerous Bass player Johnny Heywood did not heed this advise and had a rather pleasant 50mph drive all the way to the M25. Turned out Ross's route was so bad that visibility or lack of it caused the percussionists' journey to be actually halted whilst he waited for the severe fog to lift! Whilst Johnny was drinking hot milk before bed, poor old Rossy was stuck on a "B" road in Bucks.
There was no mist obscuring the band's performance however though the audience was a bit thin on the ground. Some familiar faces were there including a couple of friendly chaps who pronounced Johnny "as good as Paul McCartney" on the bass and vocals. Very nice especially as Heywood is a well known Macca impersonator who specialises in recreating his music exactly but without the same success financially or artistically.
Rob Sas put aside his favourite Stratocaster, opting instead for his original 1970's, large headstock version equipped with a Floyd Rose vibrato arm known as "The Garden Shed" because it was put together by Rob in a B&Q hut. He seldom uses this axe but it's to his credit that it sounded like he'd being playing it for 30 years (Editor: "Err - Actually, he has").
Sad to see these venues so poorly attended and we suspect the smoking ban is the cause of this. The audiences seem to drop off as the cold weather sets in & people can no longer sit outside. This means that normal pub-goers must be choosing to sit at home drinking instead of coming to support our brave lads. Bad times, indeed but most landlords are optimistic that this will pass as it did in the States some years ago.
Belle Vue, High Wycombe, December 15
The Belle Vue - the new home of Burn in Wycombe since the Gordon Arms let the boys go for being "volume challenged."
This was not a worry of the Belle punters for this has been a Burn stronghold for many years and many familiar faces turned out to welcome the Burn chaps to their spiritual home. Many thoughts turned to the nearing Christmas festivities and now it was Burn's chance to hand out some musical presents to the faithful.
Santa Sas may not have worn his comedy white beard but he was as jolly and cheerful as the mythical Saint and he had a sack full of rockular gifts to bestow on the excited faces and ears of the audience. No surprise musical choices tonight but Rob was certainly not short on Xmas spirit. Although it was closer to Jesus' birthday than his own, there were many here tonight who had travelled afar to pay homage to this young Strat King of Classic Rock although he didn't have a star above his head.
Father Christmas Elder may not have come down the chimney but he had a drumful of delights for everyone. Saints praise us all indeed as Ross set about his kit in a Yuletide sort of way. Ding Dong Merrily On High went the cymbals, as the Little Drummer Boy played with seasonal cheer and a pah-rump-a-pum-pum on the toms for good measure. No Silent Night here as Rossy Watched His Rock By Night and led the Wee Three Kings of Olden Guitar through their paces.
Saint Nick Heywood may have arrived in a Skoda rather than a reindeer and sleigh combination but the guitar and bass combo that he did bring more than made up for it. He conjured up the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future with his 1964 Fender Jazz Bass but there was no chance of them changing the life style and casting off the chains of rock he'd weaved in the life of this rocking man.
Despite a faulty microphone during the first number which Johnny exchanged in double quick time, nothing seemed to dampen the bands spirits. Indeed, youthful fan Colin pronounced the first half as the "best in 10 years plus of coming to see you!" Proof indeed that you should be careful what you drink at this time of year.
All in all a gig full of Mince Pies and Plum Pudding plus a little rock 'n' roll and as, Fat Bob at the bar pronounced, "God bless us all, each and every one!"
Filthys, Twickenham, December 7
Back to the Red Lion, otherwise known as Filthy's in Twickenham where last October the boys experienced their worst ever stage sound and it simply ruined the gig for them.
Now, a great live sound can often be difficult to achieve and can be dependant on gear, the soundman and the bands own individual sounds. The Burn boys were confident in their own gear and knew how to sound good so that left the venue's PA system.......... and the soundman.
Good news here - and bad news. First, there was no sound man. At all. Then, the band realised that the PA had largely disappeared too! This was not so good. A much smaller desk had been left in it's place and it fell to guitarist Rob Sas and his years of PA/recording expertise to extract the finest sounds at his finger tips. Initially, he was struggling due to gear quality but then the old magic returned and he achieved a fantastic sound far greater than expected of the Mickey Mouse set up. Well done, Roberto!
The first set showed there was still life in the old dogs and was as good as any set Burn has ever done. The audience showed their appreciation and all was on for another classic Burn gig.
However, the Gods of Rock are fickle and jealous and maybe something displeased them for the second half petered out like a damp firework though the Burn Boys thought they were playing as well as ever. Maybe the audience only had a finite amount of energy and the blistering first half drained them like an huge alien energy-sucking monster from outer space.
That may be a possibility but it saddened the band causing much worry, right up until they got paid.
Then they went home.
The Elgiva Theatre, Chesham, November 9th
The much awaited gig at the Elgiva in Chesham!!
Burn were supporting 24 Carat Purple who were playing their Deep Purple tribute and therefore Burn's set would be a completely Purple-free zone.
Well, not quite. Drummer Garry had waxed lyrical about Burn's version of Woman From Tokyo which he heard at the Wheatsheaf and asked them to include it tonight and of course, a segment of Wring That Neck always appears in the middle of Tush, so obviously you can take the piss but not the Purple out of the Burn Boys.
It was a great PA sound by the same crew who do the Ley Hill Music Festival, so with the lights and the big stage, it was as if Burn had come home, even if they all actually lived miles away.
Johnny stalked around the stage area like a man on a mission - a mission to spread the work of rock to those who needed it most. Like a maniacal preacher he sang out to his congregation to worship in the name of classic guitar sounds and thunderous drumming and the throng answered as one. Johnny lifted their hearts and gave them hope where there was none and saw that it was good. His bass roared like a hoard of locusts intent on devastation but he turned it up louder and some believed he had performed a miracle of epic proportions as he blasted out the ten commandments of rock & roll.
Rob the Baptist anointed all those who were within his reach with the sweet myrrh of his guitar and then cleansed them of all impurities of a pop or rap nature. Mighty was the Sword of Fender in his hand as he cut through a sway of dance music to deliver the lord's message. The Lord of Rock, that is and few failed to hear and many bathed in his aura and he was pleased.
And it came to pass that a thunderous sound was heard like a distant storm approaching but it was the percussive testament according to Ross the Disciple (of Ian Paice) and his Word was law. There was a wailing and a gnashing of teeth by other drummers who had not been so blessed and many there were who vowed to attend church next Sunday to give thanks to the Saviour of Instruments which require striking.
For many, it had been a deeply religious ceremony. For others, it had simply been a rock concert of epic proportions and yet still others believed that Burn filled in time before the headliners. Anyway, it was a great concert and Burn really do need the BIG stage.
"I just hoped I was big enough", laughed smiling Rob Sas, a man of diminutive stature who worries if he is getting too fat for his 28" jeans.
"I worried that I was loud enough," worried Ross Elder in a worried way.
"I just hoped I'd set the video correctly as I didn't want to miss Celebrity Come Dancing, again," admitted Johnny, clearly a dangerous, rocking sort of guy.
Very rock and roll.
Wheatsheaf, Leighton Buzzard, October 27
The Wheatsheaf is a cracking gig.
It caters for serious music fans and good bands so is right up Burn's street. Previous gigs here have all been good but tonight was completely on the money.
"Yes, it was right on the money," confirmed drummer Ross Elder, "and we really delivered. If I'd been in the audience I would have liked it so much I would have bought one".
Well, no-one knows what that meant either but it was clear that the Burn Boys had erased the spectre of the previous couple of gigs and were back on track.
Johnny was reminded of the first gig here when he wore his rather lovely black shorts much to the disgust of his fellow band members. Not so tonight as it officially "rock wear" that was being worn and "rock hear" that was being heard. Mind you, it was only a small but enthusiastic audience once again and the band hopes this is not a trend that will continue. We all need audiences!
With the Elgiva Theatre just 2 weeks away, Johnny took the chance to advertise it from the stage and the 24 Carat Purple drummer, Garry was in attendance handing out flyers. He enjoyed himself and was so enthusiastic that he suggested Burn play Woman From Tokyo in their support slot when it had been previously agreed that Burn's set would be a NO PURPLE zone for obvious reasons.
There was a real fire and passion tonight and everyone could feel it. Rob stepped up the Rock-God-ometer to full blast and led the band down a mighty rocky road to annihilation. They went gladly, too and revelled in the debauchery and devastation they found there. Johnny sang his guts out then roasted them on a fire and handed them out to feed the hungry hoards who couldn't get enough. Ross was playing like a carnivore who had been force fed a diet of strictly vegetables but was now in possession of a mighty buffalo carcass to feast on.
Great to hear the band back on song. The boys are, indeed, back in town.
Black Horse, Kidlington, October 14th
Another day, another gig, another delayed start due to a rugby world cup semi final. This time it wasn't England playing so the band didn't understand why they had to wait to see if South Africa won or not (which they did very easily). Ho humm.
So, there they were at 9-45pm beginning a set when they should have been in the throws of a rock 'n' roll orgasm at the very least. It also meant that a break was out of the question so there was just one big first half and no second. Did the audience appreciate this generous musical gift? No, he didn't.
Yes, another poorly attended gig. Is it the smoking ban? Is it the band? If it keeps on like this then live pub music will be a thing of the past. Still, the few people that were there seemed to be into enthusiastic and vocal in their support so the boys responded by giving them a good show.
Now, Burn has built up a repertoire of at least three and a half hours but there was the feeling that this was a familiar route and the time is right for an input of new material. Guitarist Rob Sas had already put forward a rocking little number by REO Speedwagon which he claimed was a killer track and would be perfect for Burn. Drummer Ross Elder had heard the song, realised it was actually by foppish 70's pop-sters Loverboy and denounced it as "shite", surmising that Rob must have heard it in some Spanish Club whilst out of his head on tequila, thus kidding his deluded mind that this was a "Burn" song. Johnny had already decided that if it was a REO song then it was automatically crap and on finding out the true creators, he decided not to listen to it in case it corrupted his pure rock blood line.
What will boys decide on finally? Polite suggestions to this space please.
The Red Lion, Langley, October 13
Back at the Red lion again! What a pleasure!
However, there were a couple of dodgy aspects about tonight. Firstly, England's Rugby team were in the World Cup Semi-Final and therefore, everyone wanted to see the match. So, the Burnie Boys set up and then sat down to enjoy the game. The result was crucial as an England defeat would leave the punters unhappy (unless they were French, bien sur).
Happily, in a joyous way, the result favoured the team and the pub punters thus allowing full appreciation of the band fuelled by patriotism and a ludicrous amount of alcohol.
But that was not all that was happening tonight. Sadie and Billy were getting engaged and had their party at the venue. What joy! How could the evening be anything other than a success?
The band met the challenge as only they can, which is the same as any other pub band. Unique in a clichéd way. They played the hits, the best of's and the familiar numbers but actually, it was a tad going through the motions. No-one more so than laughing Johnny Heywood who had simply brought his little bass combo - a sure sign that he wasn't serious. If he'd had a school report card it would have said "must try harder." What a lazy sod!
Rob Sas quietly got on with the job of being a rock star gun slinging lead in-your-face guitarist. No-one is more equipped to do it better than him, though deep within his fiery soul it's doubtful if it was anything other than faked sincerity. It's to his credit that it's so very hard to tell. What a professional!
That left Ross Elder to keep up his end. No Carry On humour needed here as Ross is a serious guy and tonight was nothing to laugh about. Sadly, he needn't have bothered as most of the clientele stayed either with the party or in the next bar where the TV was still on. Mind you, Match of The Day is a reasonable alternative to Burn and as the band could see a screen from the stage, all was not lost.
Best of all, the engaged chap or "groom to be" got so drunk he started a fight with his would be best man and this spilled out on to the car park and ended with the poor bride in waiting in tears of rage dragging her man home by the ear explaining how he'd ruined her day. What a tosser!
On the other hand, that's really rock 'n' roll!
The Rising Sun, Slough, October 6
One day on from the fiasco of the "worst live sound in the world", the Band found themselves setting up in Slough's top venue, The Rising Sun. This time the sound was not in the hands of a guy who'd only been in the job for 2 weeks as previously reported, but seasoned veterans - Burn! The vocal sound was courtesy of Johnny H who'd been doing his own PA for 29 years.
The band kicked off close to 10pm and played a rocking set. Johnny had borrowed Rob's tuner as his own is somewhere between here and Austria. Rob's tuner uses little red arrows to align the user to the correct pitch and is very accurate. However, if you don't actually check which note you are tuning to, you can end up perfectly in tune but in a different key. The opening number, Broken Dream was one such example. Johnny was one tone higher than Rob... or was it the other way round? Who can tell at such times but it was obvious to all but the deaf and the drunk that something was amiss. Fortune smiled in a cheesy grinned sort of way when Johnny found a string that actually was in tune with Rob. Grasping at this short straw of hope he played the entire song on that string which was very clever of him as he was also singing at the same time but no-one congratulated him at the end because it had sounded sort of shite, musically speaking. After that, everything was an anti-climax.
Ross Elder is a man always in tune and he drummed consistently and kept the band from flagging. Rob was on form and dug deep to pull the band up by it's boot straps.
Sadly, the reaction wasn't as great as the boys felt they deserved but they soldiered on regardless. All the elements were there but it wasn't a classic performance and after a while both members of the rhythm section were merely going through the motions a bit.
The second half picked up and as the alcohol set in, the reaction increased and the band got the reward they were looking for. You see what a difference some applause makes to these three musical tarts? It's everything and they love it. Well, that and a little money.
Filthy's, Twickenham, October 5
This gig will go down in Burn history as the worst sound from a live band ever and that includes Johnny garage band when he was 16. Yes, that was more than 10 years ago as incredible as it may seem and things have got better.
Not, however, in the Red Lion on this particular night. There were clues from the start as there was a new-ish soundman and some leeway was allowed in his familiarising himself with the gear. However, it washis very first time here and doubts began to circulate as Ross bang-banged his drums one by one whilst the soundman got it together. Twenty minutes later, he was still doing it! Devotion is one thing but this appeared to be getting out of hand. The bass was checked in 30 seconds - this put the boys back on track but then Rob was asked to turn down his stage sound.
Now, this has happened before some years ago and it wasn't pretty but smiling sweet Rob Sas let it be known that he was unfamiliar with the term and would therefore be changing nothing. Johnny sang his party piece warm up Beyond The Sea which usually gets to the 2nd verse before he is stopped by a happy soundman. Not so tonight. Johnny completed the entire song, sung a second, picked up a bar menu and sung that and had started on his text messages while the soundman tweaked and twiddled.
Now, it's never a good idea to fall out with the sound man as you will lose. He holds your whole vibe in his hand and can reduce it to mud in seconds if he wants so, remember to smile and ask nicely.
Finally, the boys kicked off and the first number almost came to an unpleasant halt due to a massive low end feedback howl. Ross traced it to his floor tom mike and objected to it. Sadly, it remained during the first half, not all the time but choosing it's moment to say "hello" every three or four minutes. Now, this is totally unacceptable as feedback should be dealt with immediately or sooner and this led to a few choice suggestions at half time. Ross finally forced the soundman to change the bass drum mike back to the place it should be - there is a hole in the front skin for correct mike placement, and the soundman was not pleased. However, the feedback disappeared and the second half regained some lost ground. Scraping the barrel and reaching for apples high on the rock tree branches, the boys dug deep and clawed their way through the undergrowth to higher levels of musical treasure.
In the end, the audience wanted more and honour was satisfied. It had been a hard struggle but worth it. Johnny was asked at the end how he had found the sound and there was that split second when he had to choose diplomacy or truth. Personally, this critic felt he did both when he merely said it had been "shite."
He could have said something far worse.
Swiss Chalet, September 1
The Swiss Chalet again? So soon? Who would come? Who would care?
Well, there were plenty there to examine the Burny Boys. As well as several of the usual punters, Tim, vocalist from Strange Kind Of Purple was in attendance, though he didn't get up due to a sore throat. Johnny understood that feeling too well. He was desperate to avoid any cold as he had a hectic rock schedule on this week. Tonight, he was, however, on top of his game.
Rob Sas was quiet in speech but loud in guitar. Of course, he was plugged in at the time so that helped but he seemed to be beyond mere music tonight. It was as if a muse had inhabited his body and taken him to a higher level on another astral plane far beyond the reach of lesser mortals. How and indeed, if he'll ever get back is another mystery but rest assured, Rob was on top of his game tonight.
As for Ross Elder, is there ever a time this man is not on top of his game? Well, only when he plays really badly but tonight was not one of those times. He drummed, he percussed, he percolated and many other rhythmic things at the same time, all in the space of pub gig. Truly, the man needs to be at least paid for his work tonight..
Sadly, the pay was not all that good and the greedy band boys were heard discussing if a drive to Swindon was really worth it or not? Time will tell.
The Ley Hill Music and Beer Festival - August 26
The annual bash at The Crown, Ley Hill rolled around again. Once more Burn were there but this time in a much earlier slot. Why was this?
Well, Rocking Johnny Heywood was to be in Liverpool playing that evening at the Beatles Festival and could only spare Sunday lunchtime to fulfill the Burn gig.
Though John’s mind may have been on other things, the gig was a cracker. It was a beautiful sunny day and the audience sat around with shades on and drinks keeping them cool. Stormbringer was soon blasting out and the whole festival was moved up by several gears.
Rob Sas is a man born to play the big stage. Even if that stage happens to be a flat bed truck, it's all the same to this rocking man. Rob had his full rock onslaught going from his Marshall stack to his white Stratocaster and played a blinder. Quite a contrast to the fairly mundane last gig a couple of weeks earlier, this time the band responded to Rob's drive - this was the real Burn.
Flawless as ever, except when he's made a mistake, Ross Elder braved the sloping "stage" and uneven surface and drove his boys along with more horse power than was under the trucks' bonnet. It has been said before but when Ross is on then the band is on. Of course, conversely when Ross plays a bummer then the band usually sounds like shit but that gets reported so seldom, that one doesn't wish to draw attention to it. This afternoon though, the boy was most definitely on and for two hours he kept the Burn band in full metal jacket mode.
Johnny sang very well and didn't hold back. The band collected a deserved encore and Rock 'n' Roll left the audience wanting more. They didn't get it as Stirling Heywood left the stage at 4.01 and joined the M40 nano seconds later heading for Liverpool.....
The Wheatsheaf, Slough, August 10
The return gig at the Wheatsheaf! Although very sparsely attended, it turned out to be a good 'un. Those that were there were fairly impressed and it is hoped that next time a word of mouth campaign may help bolster the numbers a bit.
Johnny used his smaller combo out of respect for the punters' hearing and then was pleasantly surprised when a taxi load of his biggest fans arrived - Wifey Sarah, daughter Aya and little Johnny Ronald who somehow slept through the gig including Rob's solos. Incredible! Or maybe he's already deaf - you never can tell at this age.
Kathy, Sue and Colin were in the audience too and the ladies concentrated more on the baby than the music but still were able to enjoy the subtleties of the band's music: softly here, violent and powerful yet controlled there, and totally out of control over there in the corner! That's just the first song, too. Rob was also using his smaller amp tonight as he knew the people of Slough deserved not to be battered with sound. But, that's the Burn secret and it's a secret that everyone knows and appreciates.
The landlord was very happy and talked about rebooks later in the year and would promote it a little better. Time will tell.
Swiss Chalet, Swindon, August 4
The downside of the "No Smoking" policy in pubs appears to be having a down side in that many punters are choosing to sit outside with their smelly-breathed friends rather than enjoy the comfort of a warm pub. This means that bands such as top rock act, Burn, are not getting the appreciation which is surely due them. "The audience without", as Johnny Heywood described them may have been cheering the Burn Boys along but from within the walls of the pub, it was impossible to hear.
This never worries drummer Ross Elder, a man used to stadiums and out-door festivals of Woodstock-ular proportions. "No, indeed," he responded in the affirmative. "Every gig for me is Wembley Stadium even if we are in a small suburb of Swindon."
Burn impressed the punters inside and out, including singer Ian Grant, from 24 CARAT PURPLE who promptly booked the band for a special guests slot at The Elgiva Theatre, Chesham on November 9th.
Rob Sas was a different man tonight. Gone were the shackles of remorse and self pity which he had been entertaining everyone with recently. Instead, the rocking man grinned a grin of happiness and let his feelings flow from his Mighty Stratocaster. What reason was there for this double turn around of emotions?
"I can't read a calendar!" claimed the illiterate one. "I was sure I hadn't taped top BBC program, "Casualty", the other night .... and I had. Thank God, cos I couldn't have lived with myself if I'd got the dates wrong and missed it."
So, no problems in the Burn camp then. Johnny may not be getting the required 8 hours of sleep per night essential for a top singing bassist due to the needs of young John Ronald Heywood, now in his 8th week, but he never showed it.
No, when the call came to rock, these boys know how to answer it with no delay in response and no call back facility, neither.
The Peartree, Milton Keynes, July 21
Things were quiet at The Peartree Hotel tonight. Quiet, that is until the Burn Boys came to town. Despite a audience on the small side of "small", these road hardened warriors of rock, not to mention roll, gave a performance on the top side of "great".
Johnny H, on his second gig that day, grinded his 1958 Precision and sang himself into oblivion - and that was just the opening number. From there, he and drummer Ross Elder were as one, like a great, big rhythm machine with a human heart and soul and the slightly sexy, dangerous appeal of two hunters on a scavenging spree.
Guitarist Rob Sas had his mind on other, more worldly matters and found his concentration wandering. Ross helped him out with some mature, man of the world type support and by throwing a drumstick in his ear. That did the trick! Back came Robwie Sasselsteen in rock fury mode and delivered the goods as requested plus an extra 17.5% for VAT. That's the type of rocker this boy is. A rebel, yet acceptable to compromise by following society's rules.
No surprise's in the set list though The Hunter got a welcome airing. A few of the small audient expressed their pleasure with the band which made it worthwhile. All in all, a totally brave effort and we can only hope that next time the boys are rocking at The Peartree, there may be a few more souls venturing out to hear them.
Filthy's, Twickenham, July 13
"Awesome" was the word of the day. It was used to describe the mighty Burn as they blasted their way through a pounding set of rock like a giant road digger building a section of the M25. Shaking the bands collective hands, one punter repeated the word "awesome" and one look at his awestruck face showed that he meant it!
Like some sort of demented rock construction workers, the Burn Boys set out their scaffolding carefully and left in a protective layer of sonic plastic sheeting to protect those that passed too near. From this they reinforced old rock songs and cleaned up some aging riffs by burning away layers of nonchalant cover versions to reveal the original tunes, moody and magnificent like the stone cleaning carried out on the Houses Of Parliament back in the 1980's. Let's hope the songs last another 200 years like the famous home of British Government!
Chief Contractor was Ross "The Guv'nor" Elder, a drummer by birth and he was responsible for ensuring the musical work was carried out on time and under the original quote. Driving them along from behind the band, Ross was able to oversee his fellow lads and keep them grafting in a most musical way.
The man responsible for mixing the cement that bound the band together was Johnny "Smudger" Heywood who wielded his mighty Rickenbacker bass like it was a giant rock 'n' roll trowel. He was the one who kept the boys on the straight & level rock line and he didn't need a spirit level, neither! Singing in a high, cool, clear and some would say lovely, voice, Johnny commanded the top level of the sonic spectrum too and still found time to keep Health & Safety issues toppermost.
Finishing the band off in a rockular fashion was painter, decorator and plasterer Robby "plumbers-breath" Sas who chose the Fender Strat instead of a brush and paint pot. Creating textures and moods out of thin air, this musical labourer papered over any cracks in the wall and filled any number of botched jobs created in the heat of a rocking bands set.
Burn - a band you can hire for a price you can afford, and they won't leave a mess afterwards, too!
The Rising Sun, Slough. June 30
The Boys are back... at The Rising Sun, one of the better venues on the circuit and scene of many a rocktabulous gig from Los Tres Caballeros.
Ross Elder was in a defiant mood and played like a man with something to prove. The audience was totally convinced and all agreed that he had succeeded. It wasn't clear what he had proved but that's not the point. Whatever the Elder Boy has, he has lots of it and he knows how to use it.
Bassist Bloke Johnny Heywood set out to prove that he wasn't in Elder's shadow and started most impressively. If he had a point to prove then he had convinced just about everyone... until he ran out of steam half way through the second half and he rather petered out like a kiddies sparkler firework. Johnny felt he had been suffering a large lack of talent recently and tonight, he certainly proved that particular point.
Guitarist Rob Sas, a man who knows how to wear a pair of jeans, seemed a little on the softie side of rock. More REO Speedwagon than Metallica, if you can dig it and by his own standards, more than a little subdued.
The audience was smaller too, after some great gigs here over the years. Tonight was the final night of smoking in a public place in England and the boys marked the end of an era with the very suitable Smoke On The Water. Johnny was one person who didn't mind the ban.
"Bloody right! Now I can get home without my clothes, my hair and my guitars all reeking of stale ashtrays. There is nothing quite like opening your guitar case on Sunday morning and breathing the pungent aroma of last nights Marlborough's. Plus, it will help my delicate singing voice. Marvellous! Sadly, it means that Rob now has to leave the stage as he can't get through a set without a fag so it looks like a big bass solo in the first half and a drum solo in the second. Rock and roll."
The Wye Valley School, Bourne End. June 23
Two years on from the last Wye Valley School gig and expectations were high due to the overwhelming success of 2005. It also marked the end of an era as the band took a break afterwards to do other projects before re-convening in 2006.
Support came from an unknown band who mixed originals with cover versions and displayed musical maturity that other bands' older members envied. Guitarist Rob Sas argued that HE wasn't jealous and planned to set off a stink bomb to prove it, so enamoured was he of the Les Paul sound of young Dirk Scabbard who also sported a much better haircut too. The guys warmed up the audience which, sadly, was a little thinner on the ground than was expected.
Johnny set up the Burn PA next to the one used by the support band. Although he had offered his to the support band, they had declined, preferring their own. A bit pointless really, as the two PA's were identical! Still, the lights were vastly superior to Johnny's Club set up and the Burn boys bathed in the Super Troopers.
This gig was the opposite to the "going through the motions" affair of last week. Ross had his drum electronics with him which allowed his bass drum to rival his snare in terms of volume and caused Johnny to re-dial in some mid frequencies on his bass to find a space in the sonic spectrum.
Rob needed no tonal shift in his setup as he had the one Sas essential to his sound - volume! No need to be polite here as it was a large hall and it's only on the large stage that Burn can be big. Not bloated, carbohydrate fuelled, lard ass fat but more tall, strapping, rugby-playing, shandy-drinking, cheerful manly chaps who are not afraid to laugh out loud and slap each others backs professing themselves, "fine fellows."
The band gave their all plus a little extra bought from E-bay and the audience loved them all the more for it. Johnny tried to inject a little more modern sounds into the repertoire by covering Rhianna's Big No. 1 hit which contains the near genius refrain of Under My Umbarella-ella-ella but, being summer time, Johnny decided it was more relevant to make it a parasol-asshol-asshol and Burn will record this soon.
A cracker of a gig and at 2.5 hours, definitely value for yer' money.
The Black Horse, Kidlington, June 17
As Johnny was racing to the venue, he received a message that the gig was due to start at 8-30 which was in 10 minutes. This was disappointing as he was 15 minutes from the venue. Foregoing food, he set up in record time as the landlord confirmed that it was a 9 o'clock start. How he laughed!
Launching into the opening number, Broken Dream, it became obvious that here was a potential gig from hell in the making. Few mobile acoustic baffles (people) were in place so the sound echoed in the empty pub.
It was loud. Despite Ross missing his electronic enhancement, the volume was a little "up". Fortunately, Rob had chosen his smaller Line 6 amp but Johnny confessed he could only hear it if he walked in front of it. Possibly this meant that the bass may have been a little loud. Well, we can only hope so. Vocally, the bassist was on the poorer side of his talent and was unable to reach the dizzy heights of mediocrity.
Still, the boys went through the motions and still were better than 90% of the bands on the circuit. It was expected that they might not play here again but no, it seems a re-book is in the offing.
The Iguana, Egham, June 9
After more than a month off, the Burn Boys re-grouped at a new venue, The Iguana in Egham. The reason was - it was Warren's and Carly's birthdays! The 30th one to be precise with one and 21st with the other..... and what better way to spend it than getting Burn to blast the night away.
However, these boys are nothing if not versatile. Not only was there a good supply of 70's, guitar based classic rock, but some soft stuff too! The Eagles were featured as they had been requested by Warren's Mum and who would dare argue? Hotel California and Take It Easy reeled out of the speakers and some were crazy enough to dance to it.
It was the rock that most had come to hear and that's what Warren was paying for. He got it too, in vast amounts. As always, there was a good dose of Deep Purple, a smattering of Free, a potpourri of Bad Co and many others. Johnny was in good voice.
Ross had rested during his lay off but it didn't sound like it as he hit the drums as if he'd never been away. If he keeps it up he could turn professional at this rate.
In the month of May, guitarist Rob Sas had worked very hard indeed.... on his tan, which had turned him a deep walnut brown....And a few gigs.... He had been out of the country all that time like some big tax exile, sunning it in his villa in the South of Spain straining himself only when he needed his glass of tequila refreshed. It's to his credit that he had kept his guitar chops up to scratch whilst keeping an eye on his pool and frequent visits to the nearest English pub where, Burn fans have reported, the Self Righteous Bros CD is often played! (Where are the royalties, then? - Johnny H) Well done, Rob!
The boys are back in town and the message on the streets is clear. Lock up your grannies.
The Wheatsheaf, Leighton Buzzard, April 27
At the Wheatsheaf, Leighton Buzzard, bands can unload and set up via the side entrance which helps greatly early in the evening. By the end of the night, however, the same door is off limits due to neighbouring sleeping babies which makes the fight through the pub to the front door an altogether different experience. It's a strange phenomena, possibly unique to English pubs that punters stand chatting in a doorway or narrow passageway and are oblivious to struggling musicians carrying heavy gear trying to squeeze past them not ONCE, but several times and still the hint to get out the way is not taken.... until the corner of a speaker cabinet clobbers them on the back of the leg. That sometimes works.
Rob Sas is a master of this. One firm, but polite "excuse me" is all this boy offers, then he attacks the route whether it is clear or not. Often, this leads to remonstrations by injured parties but Rob has the answer. "Fuck 'em," he suggests, and one can see his point of view. It's a similar attitude he takes musically and he had spent the last 2 hours attacking the audience in a more audio-phonic way by using his Fender electric guitar. Indeed, the audience had to either get out his way or join him on his musical quest. Most chose the latter and entered his journey of rock enlightenment, travelling to far off lands, eating foreign food and meeting exotic women all in the space of blues based rock song. It's to his credit that he took them all back again like a genial bus conductor or tour guide but unlike them, Rob didn't ask for payment.
Collecting the tickets was rock singer/bassist Johnny Heywood who took it upon himself to give a vocal history lesson to all and sundry. It's generally agreed that this man can sing in any style, in any genre in the World as long as it is within his range and can be handled by a middle aged fat bloke. Tonight, however, Johnny was the rough side of great. Hoarse at the start, it did improve as the night went on which is strange as most vocalists go the other way after 2 hours of rock activity. Chatting with one punter afterwards, he felt he hadn't warmed up enough and would henceforth begin at lunchtime the day before in order to prepare for a gig.
Bass wise, he opted for modern versus vintage by playing his 6-string SEI headless for one set and his 1958 P-Bass for the second half. Sadly, no-one noticed the difference.
Once again, the engine driver was Ross Elder. Anxious to make amends for his less than creative display during Burn on the last gig, he led from the front despite sitting behind the others and never put a foot wrong. Nor a hand for that matter, as Ross likes to use all his limbs when playing drums. Critical of his team mates, he observed that something seemed to go wrong during Space Truckin' and made it known that he held the bass department's inability to sing and play at the same time that was to blame, but balanced it out by observing that the guitarist can no longer play Black Night as the difficult riff confuses the poor boy. The drummers comments were noted by the others but immediately ignored as no-one likes a smart arse.
At the end, the boys were relishing the room full of love that was the venue and very pleased with themselves. Now, with a full month off as Rob goes to rehab in Spain and to work on his tan, Johnny will be building his garden recording studio and Ross will be doing NOTHING as his new job allows him time off, a concept unknown to the Elder boy who has spent the last 10 years working 6 days a week then spending the remaining day shopping at Tesco's. How rock 'n' roll is that!
Belle Vue, High Wycombe, April 21
The Belle Vue is like a home-coming for the band and many familiar faces greeted the boys. As a result, they responded by digging in deep and extracting the rock as if it were a precious commodity.
Indeed, many would argue that it was more valuable than oil as the 3-piece musical mayhem machine grinded out it's liquid gold but used electric guitars and drums instead of a vast drilling platform in the North Sea.
Johnny used his smaller rig in an effort to befriend the punters by not deafening them and found their welcoming arms especially grateful. He was voted best bass player of all time by the unbiased occupants of one table near the stage area, which included his wife, Sarah and many friends, some still sober. Johnny happily received this accolade and turned up a bit. His legendary, big bottomed bass sound was not compromised at all by the smaller Ampeg combo, especially as he plugged it through the PA too.
Guitarist Rob Sas had chosen the Marshall of Mayhem and having located the volume control almost immediately, found that it could be turned up further. So he did. Rob was on form tonight and didn't care who knew it, including the residents of Great Missenden many miles to the West. Soon, he had them all eating out of his hand which he'd given an extra special wash just in case. Soloing like a dervish, comping like a jazz great, Rob was all things to all guitar players the world over. The Purple numbers were especially devastating tonight although Rob's comedy "which riff will I use here?" ending to Black Night always causes hysteria. It's a 50% choice and after 13 years a new ending may be the safer option.
Ross Elder needed no safety net for he was propelling the boys along like a big propeller thing except the shape of his drums was quite different. It had been almost a month since the last gig and the Boy Elder was making up for lost time. That doesn't mean he speeded every song up but simply, if there was a drum in front of him then he hit it. If not, a cymbal was the recipient of the Elder forearm smash. An encore was called for and Rob suggested Burn, the track that Deep Purple named after the band. This is, however, not a favourite of the percussion department due to it's rather complex arrangement and the resulting train-wreck-recovery was a miracle to behold.
However, it was just one of the things that the Wycombe favourites love about this band. Many called it one of the best gigs of the week and some were even kinder. It will be September before the boys come this way again but already there is anticipation in the air.....
The Wheatsheaf, Slough - March 30
A brand new gig for Burn but one that The Self Righteous Bros had played some years before. At that time, Johnny had his family in attendance but between him and Rob, they made a pig's ear of the gig. The playing ranged from shambolic to disastrous and a loss of place in Hotel California led to the entire guitar solo section being played without an actual solo!
Changed days indeed as The Burn Boys lined up to rock and roll the night away to a handful of punters. After the first song, a decidedly girlie version of Get It On, one helpful Scottish punter offered his critique.
"You'se are rilly grrrate but yer tooo loud."
Johnny was able to converse with him in Jockanese and swiftly got him and others on their side. From then on, it was rather pleasant with several people commenting on much they enjoyed the music.
Ross Elder, a drummer who likes to hit things, seemed to be in a happy yet slightly threatening mood and enthusiastically drove the band along like the mad coach driver in Bram Stoker's Dracula - not the Hammer one with famous British actors Chris Lee and Pete Cushing, but the modern one with the equally great Tony Hopkins and Gaz Oldman. Great film, great acting despite Keanu Reeves cod-English accent and really had me on the edge of the seat..... but that's not strictly relevant right now. Ross was able to crack the whip and keep the others in line - just like the head vampire leader, Count Dracula.
Johnny Heywood, a singing, bassy sort of bloke, was in good voice and pushed his range all the way from A to B as if he was a Scottish Judah Ben Hur pushing his chariot to win in the famous race from the Hollywood film of the same name. Not the Cecil B. Demille black & white one which, although really terrific in it's own way, lacked the Technicolor and widescreen magnificence of the 1950's version and of course, the rather marvellous Chuck Heston in the title role... and wasn't Steve Boyd a particularly nasty Masallah? I thought so.... but here, we're getting away from the band. Suffice to say, Johnny definitely came first in the vocalists deadly roman race and his Jazz Bass came in handy as an oar in the Roman Slave Rowing scene.
Guitar Guy Rob Sas had his Marshall stack back and in working order though this was really a gig crying out for the practice-amp-volume-level and Johnny was certainly using his. However, tonight Rob was the keeper of the rock keys and was like some mad jailer who was certainly taking no prisoners! Rather reminiscent of Bob Gunton's portrayal of nasty Prison Warden, Samuel Norton in the terrific film The Shawshank Redemption, easily holding his own alongside the towering Tim Robbins in the lead role and Morgan Freeman as the wily old prisoner. The same maniacal, cold blooded style which led to death of Robbin's only witness to his innocence was echoed in Rob's playing even if he was just soloing over a pop song. Rob's demeanour is perhaps more akin to that other Stephen King, Film Star Jailer Paul Edgecomb in The Green Mile, sensitively played by Tom Hanks who treated his prisoners professionally and fairly under the guidance of the American Death-Row rules before accompanying them to the electric chair, a point not lost on Rob.
Such is the cinematic scope of the band and it was certainly appreciated by the audience and especially the landlord, Dave who rebooked the band and Burn deeply thanks him for it.
The Red Lion, Langley - March 24
The return gig at The Red Lion, Langley!
This venue gives the air of duo-ness. Of middle of the road poppy rock, safe musak served with a smile and key change to help the limited vocalist.
Surprisingly, this turns out not to be the case. Several members of the admittedly, rather small audience, were there because they enjoyed the band so much the first time and had told their friends to come too. Nice!
That was all the boys needed to set the night on fire. Although they didn't play any Doors songs nor cover any Will Young, this was rock at it's most non P.C.; at it's most dangerous to say the least and at it's most un-fashionable. No haut couture for these four boys who are all dedicated followers of un-fashionable 70's guitar based rock. These are the guys who sat alone in their teenage bedrooms for hours, practicing their chosen instruments, totally devoted to answering the call to rock, and to rock hard. These lads had their heads down when flares came and went. They didn't glance up when curly perms sat on the heads of other, more hipper dudes and when hip-hop hit the streets, these muso's hit the metronome button and ran up, down and along their major/minor scales.
Prowling the cat walk of heavy rock, the result was there for all to hear.
After weeks of silently laughing at Rob's bedroom practice amp being used at Burn gigs, bassist Johnny turned up with his own combo, a small set up last being used as a toilet for his hamster. It's to his credit that Rob didn't mouth any obscenities but carried on with the job in hand. Perhaps the band was more balanced as a result but it also meant that drummer Ross Elder could be heard clearly. Johnny promised there would not be a repeat of this.
The landlord, asked for some Whitesnake. By golly, he got it too, especially as he would be the man paying the band. Encoring with Fool For Your Loving, they brought the evening to an end, leaving a shell shocked audience awake.
"You're the best band I ever heard," said fan Sally Mongoose, although she actually added "in this pub" which doesn't read as well. Like many others, she was anxious to know when the band would return?
"When we're back again," offered Rob, cleverly deflecting a difficult moment. In fact, it will be October before a repeat happens and we can only hope that Langley can last that long.
The White Lion, Cryers Hill - March 17
Hoorah! At last, after several gigs using Rob's smaller amp set up which disappointed punters by failing to make their ears bleed, Rockin' Robbie Sas announced the return of the Mighty Marshall Stack with a triumphant shout.
"Oh feck, it's knackered."
With that he was gone! The Sas mobile motor roared into life and he raced away to Sas Mansions in search of the alternative to Marshall Mayhem - the Line 6 tiny practice amp which has all the power of a bedroom alarm for a crying baby. Did it bother him? Not at all! The band kick started a few minutes late and played one of the best shows since the last good one.
Some familiar faces were there and some confessed to feeling the venue was not the best to show Burn's unique musical contribution. They felt a more "rock" pub would have suited the dynamic stage show & incendiary playing, such as Madison Square Gardens or possibly The Milton Keynes Bowl.
Well, that's two for the future. In the meantime, Johnny Heywood sang his heart out for the first hour then struggled to make the end of the gig in one piece. "Yes," the laughing bassist laughed. "I pushed the boat out a little too far tonight and I had to use the anchor to keep myself from drifting off. Fortunately, my Rickenbacker Bass acted as a paddle and I was able to moor up at the docks with everything ship-shape and flying right."
Well, that may have sounded like nonsense to some but that's the kind of mixed metaphors that this band instils in people. Any criticism goes in one ear and out the other like water off a duck's back.
No such problems for the man they call Ross Elder. Indeed, even his Mother calls him that and she should know. Drumming comes as natural to this amiable fellow as if it were a hobby. Ross insists that he doesn't need paying either but it's only reasonable that he does or he would face starvation and death in that order. Tonight, it was the audience who feasted on great fills and mega grooves of a poly-rhythmic type. There was nothing that this man couldn't play, unless it was too difficult.
Another gig - pretty good if not great. The machine rolls on. Next week the smaller Langley Red Lion venue beckons. How will they take to hearing the band in full flight?
The Peartree Bridge Inn, Milton Keynes - March 10
A return to this venue for the Burn boys, which last time turned into a surprisingly good gig. However tonight was not as well attended as the previous gig and it was never going to reach any height, let alone a dizzy one but nevertheless, the band sauntered through a range of rocking material.
Rob was using his smaller Line 6 amp tonight and given the small crowd, maybe he had the right idea but in truth, the reality was that he had one of his post gig races to the airport for an early check in to get to Spain, so he was just being lazy!
Ross played his kit without the loud amplification he uses these days and John was his normal self. A bass and an amp. Oh, and the PA for his vocal.
The band played two sets of 45 minutes and due to the strict curfew at this venue, they had to stop playing by 11pm no matter what, or be punished… Death by Um Bungo! Not a very pleasant thought and therefore the boys chose to finish with at least five minutes in hand!
Overall, a very forgettable gig!
The Oaks, West Hyde - March 4
Johnny was back at The Oaks for the second time in a week and don't think the punters didn't notice. The band and the music was different but the voice was the same! A similar reaction greeted the Burn Boys with applause mingled with cries from the bar staff of "turn it down."
Heathens! What do they know of powerful, soulful and emotive guitar based rock music? If they'd all stop talking then the band wouldn't need to be so loud, would they?
The football finished and the band began. Craftily mixing the loud numbers till complaints came in then following up with a ballad, the Burnies kept their fans happy and the complainers at arms length.
"We don't compromise our music for anyone," asserted Johnny Heywood. "We play how we like, when we like and as loud as we like and no-one can tell us different."
Fantastic! That's how we want our rock heroes to talk and act. To do the things we can only dream about. To go above and beyond the confines of our dreary existence and experience that which we fear to. To take no shit from no man!
"Unless the landlord says turn it down, of course. After all, he's paying us and to keep him happy, I'd play any old crap. I guess I'm acceptable to compromise."
Robbie Sas, wielding his pussy combo instead of his manly Marshall, played faster than ever in an effort to finish the set sooner than expected and get off to another, more lucrative gig elsewhere. The top rock guitarist can carry his guitar, amp and gig bag to the Sas vehicle in one journey making him incredibly mobile and flexible. Rumours abound that he is going to be playing with a Deep Purple covers band soon and this radical move should allow Rob to really stretch out and show even more versatility.
On drums, Ross Elder showed himself to be the heart beat of Burn once again, with a little pacemaker help from the fat boy on bass. Sometimes you would swear they are telepathetic. Perfect synchronisation, almost at the same time. It's incredible! Just as if a fourth member was present.
Time will tell if Burn get booked again at The Oaks, as their music may be a little "select" for the venues' taste. Johnny plans to return next month with a painted Groucho moustache and has had his hair cut severely in an effort to disguise himself.
The Rising Sun, Slough - February 23
Slough's best gig by far and a welcome return by The Burn Boys. Friday night promised much despite the rain - where better to be than in a nice warm rock pub enjoying the sounds of 70's, guitar based classic rock music?
Sadly, the Slough clientele didn't agree as the audience was noticeably lighter than before but the band maintain that doesn't always lead to a poor gig.
"Au contraire," said Johnny, a master of many tongues and fluent French speaker. "Sometimes it makes us try all the harder."
Indeed, that's the way it turned out. Burn kicked arse tonight and won some new fans.
"It was fantastic," claimed Polish born Alexis Leninovskydavitch. "I cried when I heard Highway Star as just a few years ago I was put in prison just for owning the decadent, bourgeois record. It gave me the will to come to the West and hear this wonderful music played by a pub rock band in a free country, a land of plenty like here in Slough."
So, Burn helped bring down the Iron Curtain! Guitarist Rob Sas, Polish born & bred escaped from his homeland in a daring border crossing in an old farm truck with his parents. Indeed, it is a fact that Johnny H found himself in Warsaw in 1984 before the Berlin Wall came down exchanging dollars on the black market, risking imprisonment but coming back with a very nice double breasted suit and a selection of fine cheeses.
But that's not strictly relevant to what was going down tonight. All the big numbers were done, correctly in many cases. Ross used his mini PA system to amplify his drums and Johnny was on his Fender Jazz bass and about 85% vocal power as he has been struggling since January with the same cold/cough that everyone else has had but doesn't use it as an excuse.
"Ah, but singing with a bad throat is like running with a blister on your foot," he suggested. "It's ok for guitarists and drummers to have colds and get through it without anyone noticing. Spare a thought for the poor vocalist."
"Yes, he is a poor vocalist," ventured the Sas man. "But I don't have any sympathy for him."
The Burn Lighting rig, famous for it's compactness was stuck in "full on" mode as one bulb was out but that didn't seem to matter and the band hit the dizzy heights and everyone announced themselves "satisfied" and "bugger those that weren't there!"
The White Lion, Cryers Hill - February 10
New venue, new audience, old band!
Following a horrendous situation at The Golden Fleece, where Burn had been replaced by a top Robbie Williams Tribute Act, apparently..... the lads were without a gig - until the White Lion stepped in and offered themselves, which the lads gratefully accepted.
All fears of a new audience soon evaporated when several familiar faces appeared such as Colin & Sue, Joe and others from the Wycombe area. This was a relief and Burn responded by kicking "arse" as they say.
Rob Sas, had abandoned his wee girlie amp set up from last week in favour of his manly Marshall rig and the Wycombe-ites thanked him for such consideration. It's all part of this man's make-up and Bobby Boy got stuck into some real rock activity which left the shell shocked admirers agog! Squeezing every ounce of emotion from his battered but game Strat, he left no-one in any doubt that he was the Fender Master.
Drummer guy Ross Elder, friend of all and teacher to many, left all electronic enhancement at home tonight and relied on a more acoustic set up. The happy Wycombe people cried tears of gratitude and lapped every nuance of this man's complex artistry. No basher, he as Ross demonstrated precision and control throughout a positive plethora of classic rock material.
Bass Boy and Chief Shouter, Johnny Heywood, showed why he is known as the master of the 4 strings, as he combined his Rickenbacker on the low notes and trebly singing on the top ones. A letter of thanks was drawn up by the local residents for bringing such pleasure to their lives but it's all in a days' evening for this road warrior.
A great gig all round and the landlady was so happy that she rebooked the band as soon as possible. Errr...., Nov 10th!
The Black Horse, Kidlington - February 4
Last time the rocking Burn Boys played here it was a bit of an anti climax. Such apathy from the audience led to a rather watered down performance and a feeling of dissatisfaction.
Tonight was different. Despite a smallish turn out, there was a better atmosphere and the reaction that greeted the songs made the band feel welcome - loved almost!
Johnny Heywood doesn't perform for love though. "No, that's right," menaced the singing bass chap. "I use a motivational technique called money and I can appear to really be enjoying myself when I may well be totally elsewhere, mentally speaking."
It's a technique that seems to be working as most people couldn't tell the difference. Well done, Johnny!
Rob Sas, a guitar player, ignores emotion when it comes to music and falls back on a well known method of stimulation called pussy pulling. This involves flamboyant guitar playing combined with grimaces and big hair which is certain to strike a note with any lovely ladies in the audience. Smitten females are powerless to resist the axe meister and fall helpless into his musical trap.
It's impossible to tell he's really not enjoying himself. Incredible!
Ross Elder, by the very fact of being a drummer, is not using music as a love tool nor a means of making money. For him, the act of violence is what makes him truly feel at peace. "Yes, I hit the drums, cymbals, wood blocks, the wife and it's really therapeutic. Johnny & Rob have mentioned music in the past but I haven't a clue what they're on about. For me it's violence and destruction and quite frankly, I doubt you'd notice the difference between me and Steve Gadd."
Ross appears every inch the consummate musician just living for his craft when in fact, he is a brute. What d'ya say, Ross?
"Ughh! Drums good. Hit hard."
The Burn machine rolls on. Next gig is a new venue - The White Lion, Cryers Hill. Be there to see for yourself what motivates these boys.
The Belle Vue, High Wycombe - January 20
First gig of the new year for the Burn boys. Would the lay off affect their semi-legendary sharpness and famous kick-ass tightness, or would the break help these thirty something's ("Thirty-Nineteen's more like", - Editor) into producing the goods?
The Belle Vue was jam packed. At first the band thought that someone else was playing tonight but no, they were all here to hear Burn. Kicking off with Highway Star, it was clear that it was going to be another great night in High Wycombe. Lighting the rock bonfire was Ross Elder, a drummer, powerful, solid and with more than a touch a pyromania about his playing. No way were the flames of classic rock about to be extinguished by this fire-chief.
Driving the fire engine was bassist Johnny Heywood but he used an Alembic Bass Guitar rather than a Dennis Lorry and he didn't have the big yellow helmet either. Still, if it was smouldering rock bass lines and inflamed passionate vocals you wanted then he had them by the truckload and sprayed the songs with his hot talent.
On fiery lead guitar was Rob Sas and tonight, he was smashing down the burning door with his axe to enter the smoky "pop" building and rescue any rock song that had got trapped. With scarce regard to his own safety, Rob clawed his way through the charred wreckage and brought out the survivors before diving back into the song to solo his way up the ladder to see if there was anyone else there.
Second number was George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps but tonight it was While My Guitar Gently Burns as the boys stoked subtle rhythmic work with gentle melody and char grilled the results into a big rocking barbecue.
Highlight of the evening was probably a storming version of Catch The Rainbow which inflamed the souls of everyone in the pub and brought the evening to a climax. Another great gig at the Belle Vue and despite Johnny smashing the light fitting during the set up, they still got paid and it is rumoured that they will be rebooked.
Lock up your Grandmothers!