Fox & Hounds, Wroughton nr Swindon, December 27
Johnny had played this venue before with The Self Righteous Bros and declared it "not a rock venue". In this he proved himself to be without any reasonable judgement as Burn cranked it up and played a stormer of a gig at this small country pub. Indeed, one punter declared it "the best pub band gig ever" and he seemed sober enough!
It just shows you never to judge a cover by it's book and there were plenty of covers here tonight, musically speaking. The new number, Day Of The Eagle made a little more sense though the bass player still uses visual clues rather than musical ones during the intro which he maintains "makes no sense". Then again, we've commented on what we think of his opinions already in this review.
Rob Sas, was in no condition to stand let alone drive this evening and so accompanied drummer Ross Elder in the popular Eldersmobile (distant cousin of the Oldsmobile) for the journey to the gig and was able to quiz the driver about the ways of women, amongst other things.
In the audience were relatives and friends of Pete Lechlade, one of Burn's favourite friends and now sadly gone to heaven. For them and for Pete, the band played his favourite, Catch The Rainbow and a few tears of farewell were shed. He will be missed.
At the end of the night everyone was pleased and a return date was arranged for next year. Johnny drove off into the night claiming that he always had known it was a rock & roll venue and Rob fell asleep in Ross's passenger seat immediately. Very rock & roll.
Belle Vue, High Wycombe, December 26
Traditionally the Burn Boxing Day Bash is held at the Crown in Lechlade but this year a rather short sighted entertainments manager decided the band was "too loud" and booked an excellent acoustic solo act specialising in folk renditions of classic rock covers. No, not former rock hero Ritchie Blackmore but instead, popular singer/guitarist Eric Lava and his volcanic backing trax entertained the Gloucestershire guys and gals. When the Crown head honcho heard of this he immediately wanted Burn re-instated but it was too late. The band had signed up a new contract with their favourite High Wycombe venue - The Belle Vue.
The club was full of familiar faces from Colin & Sue, Geoff, and Joe to loads of people whose faces are known if not their names! It was a very merry Xmas atmosphere though it has to be noted that there were many who showed signs of flagging after some Xmas Excess.
Consider drummer Ross Elder who had eaten and drunk himself sick the day before and was calling on the gods of rock to lift him through this lethargy. A nice new snare drum helped and our boy soon found reserves he didn't know he had and was clearly the best drummer in the pub that night.
Johnny Heywood was suffering from a rather nasty cough which threatened his famous sweet choir boy vocals so that it was less Aled Jones and more Lemmy. However, this boy has learned a lot in the last few years not the least of which is a tried and trusted technique called "faking it" and it's to his credit that no-one really noticed the difference.
Rob Sas put aside some personal problems with a heady mixture of zen meditation and really strong drink which blunted any feelings he might have had. Turning his Marshall amplifier to "stun" volume he ripped off some ferocious playing, much of which was almost good.
To everyone's surprise, a new song "Day Of The Eagle" was played for the very first time tonight. Of course, it's really an old song from the 70's but it went well and may become a regular. Starting with a drum and guitar figure which Johnny maintains "makes no sense", it is basically a guitar riff with Johnny shouting over the top some lyrics of an uncertain nature. Then in true 70's prog fashion, it changes time and goes out on a slow but rather attractive amble. No mistakes and people clapped too. Wonderful!
Home for hot milk and bed as the boys are in action again tomorrow.
Belle Vue, High Wycombe, December 6
Back at the Belle Vue for the best gig that Burn plays these days. Always a pleasure, never a chore is the feeling and tonight was no exception.
If Johnny had bothered to learn Day Of The Eagle then we would have had a new song - but he didn't so they relied upon the vast repertoire that Burn has built up in the last 15 years.
Rob was not himself tonight as he had his mind on matters of a domestic nature but that didn't stop a killer version of Catch The Rainbow which brought the house down. For a moment he forgot his problems and delved deep into the guitar to be the Rob we all know and love.
Johnny was still suffering at the hands of Doctor Throat and admitted to "faking" his vocals whenever he got into difficulties and few noticed.
Fleur de Lis, Stokenchurch, November 1
This was the wettest night ever recorded and this probably didn't help the attendance figures.
Great to see some familiar faces like Colin & Sue and Geoff The Thespian who had a long chat with Johnny about how a recent cricket injury had prevented him attending auditions and severely curtailed his sword fighting! Well, it would, wouldn't it?
Burn took to the stage with a healthy attitude and it showed. There was a bit fire about the band tonight and though the set list didn't have any surprises it was a solid show. It was nice to hear Catch The Rainbow performed and this is one number that changes on a nightly basis. Tonight it was a controlled version but with a power that could run the country's electric grid for a month. Probably.
At the end of the night there were many happy faces and the boy's were pleased. Then they went outside to load the cars and it was still raining. That may not be rock & roll but it is the British weather so get over it. What's more, the band is not in action again for over a month. Maybe they'll learn a new song?
The Wheatsheaf, Leighton Buzzard, October 25
In between this gig and the last one the Band played a private party for Jeff "Jethro" who has been coming to see Burn play in the Lechlade area for more years than anyone cares to remember. So, it was a big happy 65th for him and a great night out in the Trout Inn and the boys had a ball.
Tonight it was back to standard pub rock fare but at the Wheatsheaf a splendid time was always guaranteed for all. Not as busy as before it seemed and there were some suggestions why this was.
"You're crap," was a leading contender but it also appeared that the local rag had advertised the gig as last night so poor unsuspecting coach loads of fans may well have arrived only to find Big Arthur Dollop's Blues Boys playing a set of 12 bar standards. Many may have preferred this to the more dangerous sound of Burn's 70's guitar based classic rock but whichever, they didn't come back 24 hours later.
If so, they missed Band Mate Bob who had flown in especially from the States for tonight's gig which at first, seemed highly unlikely and indeed, it was. In reality, he had broken off his holiday to get up and play a couple of numbers and sang them too. Further On up The Road had Bob squeezing some Clapton/Bloomfield-esq sounds from Rob's Strat which many had said could not be done due to the 30 years of Blackmore tainted stylisations our Robbie likes to use. It's to the credit of Leo Fender's mighty design 50 years ago that this could be achieved.
This added a nice change of tempo to the normal blitz that makes up a Burn gig and the audience thanked them all politely. The boys gave a pretty fair standard of a Burn gig and finished all the more happily for it.
Johnny felt his voice had been below par but he had a few days off now to recover. Ross was threatened with having to speak to a fellow Inverness-ian who had accosted Johnny at the door during packing up time to remonstrate on the folly of driving 4 wheel drive cars in suburbia and never towing anything despite a tow bar designed to pull Canterbury. In fact, it's on the cards that Johnny may soon get a trailer in order to take the full gear plus the kids as the kids can obviously fit in the trailer easily.
....and really, that's rock 'n' roll.
Rising Sun, Slough, October 17
If one was to select a typical standard of Burn's normal rock 'n' roll set then tonight would be held in high regard as a prime example of said occurrence.
The Rising Sun is a stalwart bastion of all things live and one of the band's favourite hop's. Although not as busy as it perhaps once was prior to the smoking ban which seems to have done for the British Pub, it nevertheless was filled with pop pickers and rock takers all eager to enjoy the 3-piece's sweet 70's guitar based rock music in an audible medium.
Rumours abounded that top vocalist and all round rock chick, Chrissie Hammond would be joining the band during the set but this was nixed as the poor lady had come down with a bout of the nasties. Hopefully, when a recovery is made she will join the chaps at a later gig.
Johnny had primed his own voice in preparation of some duo vocalising but as this never happened, he could relax and drop the standard so as not to end up ragged and hoarse. His mighty 58 Precision Bass, almost a regular these days, was in fine form and blasted anyone's chest area if they happened to be near - in Slough for example.
Ross no longer brings his electronic enhancements for his drums, preferring, instead the natural timbre of his Mapex kit. Who can blame him either, spending all that money on nice shiny wooden drums, why stick it through some crappy 50 watt transistor amplifier?
Robbie had a fine night right up to the time he wandered round to his car at the end of the night to find that it had been broken into and the Tom-Tom "half-inched". The poor boy was so distraught he barely found his way back to the pub as he tends to rely heavily on the said sat-nav machine. He had been parked in the pub's own little area and surrounded by cars but his was the one targeted. Going through the motions, he walked to the police station two hundred yards away but few believed it would end happily.
So, a damp squelcher to an otherwise fine Burn gig. Tomorrow night the boys play at Lechlade in Gloucester and there were now fears that Rob would have to buy a map to find the venue!
Filthy's, Twickenham September 19
A couple of weeks prior to this gig, the band had played a private function in an enormous marquee with a full PA system, sound men who knew what they were doing, free food and drink and lovely ladies dressed to the hilt which made this event a stand out gig! Here was a show that didn't need a review - it needed a book written about it.
Contrast that with tonight. Here the band found themselves once again at Filthy's with a PA but no operator and no apparent way of plugging in Johnny's essential harmoniser. "I can't sing without it," claimed the singing man although when faced with not getting paid, he found the strength to soldier on unaided. Heroic at the very least.
Surprisingly, drummer Ross Elder had decided not to enhance his own sounds with his electronic triggers and his mini PA system. "It's the acoustics, Man," he explained. "The venue doesn't need them. Plus, I can get out that much faster and get back to watch Casualty which I recorded this evening." Functional at the very least.
Then there was guitarist Robbie Sas. With his sounds mastered on his new gear he could relax into his role as Rock God. The audience filtered in late as starting time approached but all was well and the band kicked arse and maybe a little ass too. Rockular at the very least.
No surprises in the set and concern was bubbling under about revamping the set a little. Rob had been banned from suggesting any more Ritchie Blackmore numbers and had settled on a Joe Satriani instrumental instead. Johnny was pushing for an old Montrose song and Ross reminded all that Trapeze had several possibilities that would suit Burn to a tee. Let's see if anyone actually pulls the finger out and learns one.
As the band pulled away into the night, Johnny was stopped by some teenage members of the audience who couldn't believe how good the band had sounded and thanked them profusely. You see, sometimes it's all worth it after all
The Belle Vue August 30
If Rob Sas had murdered Johnny Heywood when Burn began then he would have expected to have been released from prison by now for good behaviour and possibly with a newly learnt craft by correspondence course whilst incarcerated at Her Majesty's Pleasure. It's to his credit that he would have been rated a model prisoner and would in all probability have gone on to do great charitable work and help keep the young offenders from re-offending and thus leading a life of crime. Perhaps he would written a book too and warned others not to tread this path of crime and left all proceeds to help prisoners still locked up.
However, he didn't actually commit any crime other than guitar playing and therefore he found himself along with Drummer Ross Elder and bassist Johnny Heywood at the Belle Vue unable to escape celebrating/paying for Burn's 15th Anniversary.
Can it have been only 5 years since they celebrated their 10th? Seems so and the set list hadn't changed, neither. Rumours had abounded that former Keys player, Tom Dussek would make a re-appearance after some many years away but at the last minute, he went on his holidays instead. Bastard!
Well, they didn't need him then and they didn't need him now. Instead, we got Burn at it's rocking best - a compact unit of 3 with no trimmings. A rock & roll Packet of 3 if you will, but this band did more than stop babies being born. This was testosterone fuelled music strictly for men, although ladies were quite welcome too as Burn operates a very PC no exemption policy which sits very well in these modern, enlightened times.
Yes, Bitches were most welcome and the audience swelled to what is known in the trade as "busy". Many said it was a "great gig", others were even politer but the boys knew it had been good but not really great as far as the playing went. Rob was still unsatisfied with his sound of his new gear and went to bed tweaking it in his sleep. Johnny had no complaints especially as he had been rocking at the House Of Fraser Department Store 3rd floor earlier in the day, and got told to turn down. Very rock & roll.
In the audience, friends and regulars were there such as Gary Davis, ex Quatermass 2 and drummer Lee Herbert of WingsBanned who were not slow to heap abuse on the band. Bob & Dave were down the front singing along despite being asked to stop and propping up the bar was band mate Joe, grinning the evening away.
Happy Birthday Burn. See you in 5 years for another biggie.
The Ley Hill Music & Beer Festival, August 24
For the third year running, Burn were playing at this festival in Ley Hill, where Rob is a regular visitor at The Crown. However at 11:30am when the PA crew arrived to set up for the day, the drizzle was unrelenting and there were plenty of worried faces around. Somehow and is if by magic, some fifteen minutes later, the drizzle suddenly stopped, the clouds parted and the sun shone. The weather Gods yet again smiled upon this festival at the last moment.
There was a marked difference in the band today, however. John was missing in action elsewhere, so his place was taken by vocalist Ian Grant of Deep Purple tribute band 24 Carat Purple and Rob Goss formally of Bridgfield on bass.
The day kicked off with Krissy Mathews and his band, playing a set of classic blues. This talented young guitarist is a rising star and is making big waves in Scandinavia where he tours frequently. Next up was Rob’s friend and regular Crown gigger Roland Chadwick who delivered a stunning master class in virtuoso acoustic guitar and mandolin. His humorous approach warmed the crowd up and Roland delivered a wonderful set appreciated by all.
Burn took to the stage at 4:30pm opening with Highway Star and proceeded to rip it up for the next 90 minutes choosing songs from their vast repertoire that both the new recruits felt comfortable with. The set was peppered with Ian’s blatant advertising campaign for one thing or another…. He spoke almost as much as he sang!! So, intervals between songs were kept to a minimum by Rob and Ross in an attempt to limit the amount of advertising space available!!!
The highlight of the set was a stunning version of Child In Time, which showed off Ian’s vast and extremely powerful voice. This song has rarely been played with such power and for a while it seemed as if the band had a new lease of life…. they played with a passion that belied that they had only played together for just a few hours earlier in the week!
This was Burn, just not as we know it…. It was certainly quite different and never going to reach the dizzy heights they usually achieve without breaking into a sweat but this was differently good, with many high praising comments from festival goers and fellow musicians alike, throughout the weekend. All in all, not a bad gig which got the boys an encore for their efforts but both Ross and Rob agreed that perhaps it was not to be repeated.
Worthy of a very special mention is Aidan, one of the Crown’s landlords, who valiantly set himself alight during the band’s set!!! Not only did he scorch his entire arm very impressively, but he got himself an instant facial tan complete with eyelash and eyebrow removal, capping it all off with a rather fetching fringe burning enhancement! Good work, Aidie but it might have been better to move the pig roast to the front of the stage beforehand to make it look really impressive! Respect!
After Burn, Grapevine Blues Band took to the stage to headline the day and proceeded to play an absolutely stunning set as only they can. In ten days time the two bands will meet again at a private function just along the road, in Ley Hill.
Later in the evening, Rob and Grapevine guitarist Dr Ika were seen in deep conversation discussing equipment and techniques, although it wasn’t clear if the subject matter was guitars or sex!!! Sometimes, you just can’t tell…. “It’s all the same thing” Rob was heard saying to Ika, who nodded in agreement.
The Peartree Hotel, Milton Keynes, August 9
After such a great gig last night at The Nag's Head, tonight's gig was destined to be on the slippery slope back down the other side of the Mountain of Rock. Indeed, it proved to be such and no extra rope nor reinforced crampons on the band's rock & roll climbing boots was going to save it.
Ross Elder took a look at the audience and didn't like the look of them despite a couple of familiar faces. Sadly, he never really got going and was content to look after stores at Base Camp.
Rob didn't seem to mind the circumstances and set about his gear like a Sherpa trying to get to Camp One on the side of a Himalayan Mountain. Without proper motivation, it was a fool hardy task but Rob attempted to scale the highest heights tonight and all without the aid of oxygen and though he never reached the summit he must have surely seen the flag on top.
Bassist/Vocalist/Hill Walker Johnny Heywood was worried that he'd stretched himself a little too much the previous night when he'd faced a sheer rock wall and climbed it bare handed in an extreme sports sort of way, vocally speaking. Sadly, it was true and he never quite made the attempt on the summit this time round. Maybe next time, Johnny.
So, no glory tonight. The top was just out of reach though the boys did get a couple of ladies dancing and one of them gave Johnny her hat to wear. It may have looked cool on her but Johnny looked an out take from Bill & Ben The Flowerpot Men.
....and they didn't climb bloody Everest, either.
The Nags Head, High Wycombe, August 8
What a joy! The PA was supplied by the venue and what's more, it was a new one and they had nice lights too and a lovely clientele.
All in all, things were set for a magical Burn night. What could go wrong?
Actually, nothing. Tonight the boys were on fire. There were gasps of amazement as guitarist Rob Sas dug in deeply and spat fire from his musical hands. If there was a note going then by golly, Rob played it and then followed it up with 250 more and that was just on the opening number! By the time he got to an epic version of Catch The Rainbow it seemed that he could have no more notes left. However, the little rocking man had a spare guitar case full of them and opened it immediately, spewing forth as is his style.
Bassist Johnny Heywood played fewer notes than Rob but there were looks of disbelief that bordered on stupefaction as his mighty playing took the band to new levels whether they wanted to go or not. Fellow bassist John of the Beaver Band described his 1962 Precision Bass sound as "big and fat" although he could have been talking about the player, I suppose. Anyway, it was a lesson to all would-be novice players of how to extract the meat and potatoes and to leave the parsley out, musically speaking.
Deeply inhaled breaths of astonishment were heard all around as drummer Ross launched a nuclear attack on his kit. At least they would have been heard if Ross hadn't been so loud but it's a moot point as this bongo player doesn't know the meaning of the word "turn down". But Ross' strong points don't include English (nor arithmetic, it seems) but he's the man to see if it's percussive annihilation that suits you, sir. Few can touch him when he's on form like this and those that do usually get a punch up the throat. Well played, Sir!
Tonight was a bloody great gig and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Filthys, Twickenham, July 18,
Complaints by neighbours at Filthy's had led to a situation where the drums can no longer be amplified! This is a severe blow to a man like Ross Elder who likes to brutalise his percussion and as he has a new kit which he is still wearing in, then it's a poor show all round.
Or at least it would have been had the Elder Statesman not been made of sterner stuff. The gig may have gone down hill but the fans had not and Ross pushed Burn on in an acoustic sort of way to greater heights. Rob Sas worked the PA to get a good vocal sound and it was a lot better than the last time Burn played here. That went down in history as the worst live sound in the World and it was officially entered as such in The Guinness Book Of Records.
Johnny was in good voice and thrashed his old Precision Bass accordingly. It's one of the few guitars Johnny has that does not need some kind of work done on them. Many others have just been gigged a little too much!
Rob had no problems tonight and no complaints about the sound though we are sure he missed not having the drums louder (& consequently the bass, too!!). He soldiered on, anyway and the Band delivered a great set.
Discussion about newer songs took place afterwards, with Rob pushing for an instrumental Joe Satriani song though Johnny may feel the need to sing along with his guitar parts or else he'll feel he's not doing enough!
Could sound really great.
The Rising Sun, Slough, July 12
Back at the Rising Sun for the first time since March, there were a few familiar faces ready to heap praise or abuse on the Burn lads.
Rob Sas, a guitarist of no fixed hairstyle welcomed the opportunity to put his new POD pedal through it's paces - each gig finds a tweak here, a subtle adjustment there as Rob strives to re-create the Sas sound for the new century. He's getting close too, as the smile on his face showed by the end of the night. "Can you hear the lead"? he asked as if he felt it wasn't loud enough.
"Oh yes, Rob we can", came the happy retort.
Johnny is favouring his collection of Rickenbackers at the moment and selected a nice red one for tonight. "It's what gives me my sound, man", he claimed. "Nothing else sounds like me." This claim is not borne out by the others. "Naw, he sounds like that playing any old shit guitar", claimed great mate Rob who prefers to remain with the one axe constantly with only a smear of fast fingers axle grease between him and the strings.
Drummer Rossy Boy Elder was still in heaven as he put his new Mapex kit up. "Just listen to the depth of that sound", he motioned, holding up the snare for all to see. Of course, hitting it would have been a better test but it sure looked "sparkly". To celebrate the unique tonal qualities of this kit, Ross declined to use the electric enhancements and triggers he has been known to set up on occasions in favour of the pure natural wood sound. Quite right, too agreed the audience.
Not a classic gig but a good one nonetheless.
Chinnor Bike Dayz, July 5.
Tom Tom sat navs are great things. Bassist/vocalist Johnny Heywood won't go to the toilet without his but sometimes they don't get it right. The aforementioned musician had begun to set up his gear in someone's back garden before politely being informed that he was a half mile out. In reality, the Chinnor Bike Day took place in a big field down the road and was well attended by the biker fraternity, raising money for the Chiltern Air Ambulance in the process.
Burn hit the stage, some members opting for shades as the sun was shining and it definitely makes for more of a rock star vibe. Rob Sas had sorted out his new guitar rig though he claimed it was not yet perfect, he was happier. Poor Rob can only program his sounds in a fully fledged gig situation as he lives in a flat densely populated with neighbours capable of banging on the wall at any moment to voice opinions on his guitar tone.
Johnny Heywood is a plug in and play sort of guy so he plugged in and played and no-one was any the wiser. Good to hear he was back to vocal form after a very long protracted throat ailment.
Drummer Ross Elder had a new kit to bash. Almost all of his Burn career has been played on his trusty Tama Kit but now he had splashed out on a Mapex Saturn Series Black Cherry Sparkle set up. The boys were worried he might hurt himself but they needn't have bothered. He sounded better than ever and would certainly have got paid had this not been a charity event.
Such a generous spirit is rarely rewarded in rock & roll.... and it wasn't today, either.
Prince of Wales, Little Kingshill, June 29
"Where's the barbecue", queried a hungry Johnny as he pulled up at The Prince of Wales for the afternoon slot in bright, warm sunshine.
On being informed that there was to be NO barbecue after all, concern was expressed for the well being of the singing bassist as he claimed an empty tummy might cause too much resonance during vocal passages and lead to an over abundance of natural reverb on some of the higher notes. A very worrying situation, indeed.
Or was he just being a greedy pig? Sometimes it's a fine line.
Anyway, the Burn Boys kicked off the afternoon slot with as much fire power as they ever had. There were many highlights.... a rare outing for Come Together which pleased regulars Bob and Dave and during a rocking version of Can't Get Enough, a close friend of Bad Co's Mick Ralphs held his mobile phone up to record the band and relay it to Ralphs' answer machine. That'll have pleased him. Nothing like hearing yourself ripped off by a bar band. Burn expects a support slot on Bad Co's next tour or a solicitors letter at any time!
Sax player Laurie was there too and he joined in on several numbers. Always a pleasure, never a chore! Of course, he won't get paid - Burn is not that generous.
By late afternoon it was all over but everyone was smiling, even the neighbours for several miles all around who surely must have enjoyed the boys brand of good time rock & roll. Many faces were spotted at windows shaking fists along with the music and banging the glass panes in happiness although it has to be said that many couldn't keep proper time.
Then the boys raced off and Johnny was spotted heading in the direction of a kebab van.
Fleur de Lis, Stokenchurch, June 27
It may have been a couple of weeks break since the last Burn gig but it had been more than a couple of years since they had last graced the stage at The Fleur. July 2002, to be precise and that day had ended with the management voting the band out as being "too loud"!
Well, no such problems now with the new operators who loved the band and booked them back. The venue had been spruced up too and was an excellent rock club.
The band responded by delivering an electric set. Johnny especially needed a good gig as he'd been sacked by top rock covers band, Raw Glory earlier in the week, not for the usual "musical differences" but for being "crap". Johnny excelled himself tonight, displaying his bass and his voice at the top end of his powers and proved to everyone just how wrong they had been and that he was, in fact, just mediocre. That'll teach them!
Guitarist Rob Sas had no such point to prove and let his axe work do the talking. To assist him in this endeavour, he enlisted the help of a brand new Line 6 pedal which gave him a variety of amp simulations and sounds to replace his retired old effects rack. Rob was so worried that he had not had time to attach his finely tuned sound, which he keeps in a little wooden box near his bed, to the new gear. So, as a safety measure, Rob decided not to use his trusty 20 year old Marshall Stack specially made for guitar but chose a Woolworth's PA system which he happened to have at home with speakers specially not made for guitar. It was an experiment that all agreed was worthy but never to be repeated.
Reliable Ross Elder was anxiously awaiting new gear of his own but the new kit had been delayed and he stayed with his old Tama kit. A brand spanking new Mapex red sparkle drum set may change the boy but we'll have to just wait and see.
Bassist Rob Goss, a former band associate of Rob Sas' in his younger days, got up to blast through a number and it sounded so good that Johnny asked if it was like that when he played? Rob will be depping for Burn next month at Ley Hill when Johnny takes his Beatle Tribute Band, Fat-Cartney (also known as WingsBanned)to the Liverpool Beatles Festival.
The Oddfellow Arms, Apsley, June 13
Less than a week after Bob's Bash, the boys were back in town (Apsley) for a new venue. The message had been passed that this was a place booking great bands and they would love Burn and their brand of rock.
Sadly, that didn't seem to be the case as they kicked off to three people and a dog. Often this leads bands' to play a lackadaisical set, a half-hearted quick run through of the numbers, take the money and run approach. Not the Burn Chaps!
They gave their all as if this little pub was Wembley Stadium and gradually the venue filled up. It's difficult to believe this was a result of Burn playing their heart out but it probably helped a bit.
Guitarist Bobby Sas shrugged off any Friday the 13th worries and played a storming set, his mojo a-working overtime (though he wasn't paid time and a half) and his John the kangaroo stuffed firmly down his trousers, musically speaking, breathing sweet soul music from his fiery strings.
Bassist and singer, Johnny Heywood used his Warwick VI in anger but declared "superstition ain't the way, hay, hay" and sang as well as a man suffering the after effects of a 2 months long cold could. What is in the air that prolongs illness such as this?
Drummer guy Ross, no stranger to suffering himself, warded off evil spirits with a powerful hex style drumming and no voodoo spell could dissuade him from it. There were many tonight who sought salvation from music and found it in the form of this mad cap percussive evangelist. He spread the word, he spread the sound and he spread the rock and there was much that was learned. God bless him.
God bless Burn.
Bob's Bash, High Wycombe, June 7th
Long time Burn follower Bob Dangerous turned 50 this week and to celebrate, he called on the services of his 2nd favourite band, Deep Purple not being available (nor affordable).
The Burn boys were happy to oblige, especially after seeing the massive spread laid on by haute cuisine cooks and cordon bleu chefs. The first half was raced through so that the band could indulge in an eating frenzy. This left them fully fuelled for a marathon second half which saw several members of the Dangerous Clan joining them on stage for what could loosely be called "backing vocals". This description failed to explain the presence of a large inflatable guitar which was wielded by several different wife's, sons and daughters in a manner depending on alcoholic intake.
Young Zak Dangerous climbed aboard Ross Elder's drums and joined the band for a dynamic version of Born To Be Mild and this brought the house down. Proud Father Bob watched tearfully as did Ross who feared his job was in jeopardy. Negotiations will continue Monday morning.
Bob declared this as "the best night of his life" which got his ears boxed by his wife but you could sympathise with his viewpoint. His favourite song ever was Wishing Well and Bob was invited up to sing it! Launching into it as if he onstage at Wembley, Bob gave the performance of his life and loved every minute of it whilst not missing the chance to ask if he could get a band discount for being part of the act.
A great fun night and everyone is keen for Bob to have another 50th very soon.
Esquires, Bedford. Deep Purple 40th Anniversary, May 3
There were more stars than in Hollywood here tonight at The 40th anniversary of Deep Purple, organised by More Black Than Purple editor Jerry Bloom..... or at least more than down the road at the Dog & Duck as Burn finished up a fabulous day of Purple-related rockular activity.
The event started with former Purple bassist Nick Simper's band The Good Old Boys featuring the twin guitars of Simon Bishop & Pete Parks. Singer Alan Barrett was in great voice and remarked how they weren't allowed to play rock 'n' roll back in the 60's but were making up for it now. They crowned the set with a storming version of Hush from Deep Purple's first album.
After a break, Purple's Mark 3 bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes took to the stage armed with only an acoustic guitar and a keyboard player named Anders ..... to play a set of Trapeze, Purple and solo songs to the great delight of the more than partisan audience. This was interspersed with a q & a session in which Glenn revealed that he was writing an autobiography which would contain the real answers to some of the more difficult questions asked.
Meanwhile, backstage, Burn drummer Ross Elder had found a rather nice Russian style Cossack beret autographed by Glenn and was proudly displaying it at Johnny Heywood, a well known Hughes-a-holic. "Ha, bet you're jealous", he jibed, waving it in front of the poor, drooling boys face.
As the Hughes set ended and he fled the building and Bedford to have dinner at his Mum's, compere Jerry announced the Purple quiz competition winners...... and their prize - a signed Russian style Cossack hat! Amid the cheers and applause came a ruffling in a duffle bag backstage and a tip-toeing Ross Elder exited the dressing room.
Burn took to the stage as last act of the night. Sadly, a huge part of the music loving crowd had also fled the building and Bedford, the free loading bastards, and missed the mighty trio giving it large on the covers front as only they can. Three new numbers had made the set including Mark 1's Mandrake Root which had a great improvised middle section which had taken hours to get right at rehearsal. Guitarist Rob Sas proved he was the best guitarist around on the stage and the incredible rhythm section of Heywood/Elder pummelled the audience into submission.
Rainbow/Malmsteen/Cornerstone vocalist Doogie White was in the audience and joined the band for Highway Star and title track, Burn recreating the Coverdale/Hughes vocal harmonies with Johnny. When asked if they could play Since You Been Gone, Doogie confessed he could not sing Graham Bonnet songs and Johnny sheepishly admitted that it was a talent too far to attempt.
Those that stayed loved the band and it was a pretty good end to a great Purple coloured day.
The Wheatsheaf, Leighton Buzzard, April 12
"Which town are we playing in tonight?"
Johnny Heywood was on the phone to guitarist Rob Sas and it was nearly 8-30. It seemed he had the correct Venue name but was parked up in Dunstable and was of the opinion that this Wheatsheaf was incorrect.
"Leighton Buzzard, you great Dob," explained Rob, happy in the knowledge that there was but 15 minutes driving time between the two unconnected towns. God, with Johnny's track record, it could have been Swindon!
Arriving with a cool 20 minutes to spare, the gear was set up and the boys hit the stage on fire. Rob had literally shrugged off his pain and discomfort of a broken shoulder bone and was clearly relishing the freedom of movement so long denied to him. Plus, he didn't have to pay a roadie to shunt around his gear. Marvellous!
There was definitely a magic about the band tonight. maybe they had their sights on the upcoming 40th Anniversary Gig of fave band Deep Purple which is being held May 2nd in Esquires, Bedford but the lads played tonight as if it was their last. Johnny had a group of bass players around him and got chatting about the "brotherhood of the bass" and all things fundamental. Such generosity of spirit!
Rob had his own admirers at the end of the night and was seen busily discussing guitar techniques as the others packed up to go home. Rob is well known as a master of both Rock AND Roll, playing both styles to perfection and is happy to spend time with young fans who would emulate his creative juices.
As for Ross Elder - well, what else is there to say that hasn't already been said? Nothing, really so just have a look at some previous gig reviews.
The Rock Machine continues to churn. Next stop - Bedford Rock Central!
The Rising Sun, Slough, March 7
The second Burn gig for Robbie Sas with his broken collar bone saw him in a better physical state than last month although he was still using roadies to set his gear up and the comfy chair was positioned so that he could be seen by laughing punters.
"It's costing me a bloody fortune," he complained, frustrated at his lack of mobility. "I should get a grant from the council providing me with a driver because what I do is really a service not a job."
Well, that's a possibility but, in the meantime Rob joined the band to create one of it's typical rock blasts. There may not have been many in the audience tonight but those that had come were there to hear and see one of the most potent bands on the planet. Just because they were playing a pub in Slough does not mean that they were not legendary nor up there with the Greats.
Every gig is Wembley Stadium to top bassist/vocalist, Johnny Heywood. "Yes, I play the same way regardless of audience or venue. It's what makes me, me. I couldn't imagine playing a substandard gig, ever."
Indeed, Burn reached the dizzy heights of Pub Rock tonight. Few bands would attempt classic songs like Can't Get Enough and Smoke On The Water in a pub but that's the mark of greatness and these boys have it in spade loads. Drummer Ross Elder summed it up best - "When we're on, there's no-one that can touch us at what we do. Mind you, if there was someone else then it wouldn't be us."
The Belle Vue, High Wycombe, February 23
First gig of
the year at the Belle Vue and the audience was packed in eager to hear if the
burn boys had lost any of their potency as they entered their fifteenth year
together. “Would have got less for murder,” said a grim faced Johnny Heywood, a
man who is no stranger to termination with maximum prejudice, either musically
However, there was one big difference to the band this time - yes, Laughing Rob Sas had mutilated himself once again and would need to play the entire gig from a prone position. A severe collar bone break, the result of a bizarre bedroom incident for which details were sketchy at best, caused Mr Sas such pain from the guitar strap that he had a roadie set up a comfy chair for him to sit on and thus dispense with the need for any weight taking it’s toll on the poor boy’s shoulder blades.
Now, this was a technique much employed by amiable, genial folk singing Irishman Val Doonigan and suited his whimsical yet lyrical songs. Who can forget the magic of Ring Of Bright Water - a tale of a man and his otter or the clever tongue twisting word play of McGinty’s Goat? Certainly not Rob Sas who was not able to be a-pushing it and shoving it when it came to his own gear and had to rely on Big Charley Farley, (“roadie at a price you can afford”) to set up the mighty Sas Sound.
There was no woolly sweater for the Sas Man tonight and his own particular rocking chair was not going to send anyone to sleep. Was it possible to find the fire that Rob is known and loved for, or would he have to tailor his playing to suit the image? Certainly, those who stood a few feet from the stage area struggled to see the poor boy as he was dwarfed by Ross’s oversized drum kit, Johnny’s Hefty Bass Rig and the two band mates, no strangers to meat pies.
Surprisingly, and especially considering the amount of prescribed drugs which passed over the boy’s gob, Rob was re-acquainted with his mojo. Despite Johnny mercilessly taking the Micky at every opportunity, Rob played extremely well for a man that intoxicated. Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac didn’t come back for 20 years after dancing with Prof White and the story of rock is littered with the carcasses of those who over indulged. Rob treated it like peppermint and turned in a really outstanding performance. Few even noticed his predicament and many thought he was just being a lazy bastard.
The band was joined for couple of songs by Laurie who happened to have his alto saxophone with him. This resulted in some blues based material and featured some great sexyphone playing and lick trading with Inspector Ironside on the guitar.
So, well done Rob. Ross and Johnny had standby substitutes on readiness but they were not needed on the night. Rob reckons 6 weeks will see him back to full fitness - possibly less if the roadies prove too expensive..
The White Lion, Cryers Hill, January 26
The Burn Boys were back at The White Lion - a venue thought lost to the rocking World. For the first gig of the bands' 15th year in existence, it was a surprise birthday bash for big fan, Mike.
All was set up and the band and friends lay in wait till young Mike appeared and though he had suspected something might be in store, he was knocked out to see the band ready to play. Such joy! Better than a sports car.
The first half proved the band has lost none of it's fire and after a short break where faces were stuffed and bellies provided for, they set upon a second half that turned into a marathon concert. For over two hours the boys raced through their collection of rockular trinkets, pleasing many and satisfying others in a benevolent, yet firm, dictatorial way that owed much to the pioneers of a previous era - a time when innocence had not yet been lost and Nanny smiled and read stories of pirates and cowboys before a supper of bread and jam and a glass of hot milk.
Or was that just wishful thinking? Anyway, the boys finished, absolutely spent and began winding down just as punter Jo came forward to advertise her cycling charity bash from Vietnam to Cambodia. This aroused the interests of the locals and the Burn Boys offered to do another song - all proceeds to Jo. What a wonderful gesture and one that will surely earn them a place in Rock Heaven.
Then they really were tired and went home to bed.