December 10 The Sailor, Hitchin
A gig without John? Surely not! Absolutely, yes – the first of three over the next couple of weeks! Tonight John had decided to work with another band and so Garry’s friend Phil Crombie on bass came out of retirement and Luka Ravase, singer from 24 Carat Purple were brought in.
The venue was quite well attended, with most of Phil’s friends and family coming to see his rare public performance…… and what a performance it was, too! He played far better than a man who had just stepped out of retirement and with a power and passion that belies his quiet nature.
Luka, ever the archetypal frontman, sang, screamed and delivered a master class in Rock frontman ship!
December 16 Oddfellows, HH
With John again not available, the boys re-assembled again following last week’s successful gig in Hitchin but wait...where was Luka, our rockular frontman?! No need to panic. The band knew he would be late and by luck, the landlord of the pub is a singer and so a half hour set of songs was cobbled together. Still Got The Blues, Walking By Myself and various other classics rarely played by Burn got an airing and the busy pub seemed to like it!
35 minutes after starting, Luka strode in like a true Warrior of Rock, long mane of hair flowing behind him. After a few moments to get himself sorted, the band launched into Burn. And by God, it was an extremely powerful version which apparently damn near made Phil crap his pants!! Luka’s voice soared and he was in magnificent form. It was clear that within moments, he had the assembled crowd in the palm of his hands…. Marvellous.
December 17 General Elliot
The third gig in a row that John didn’t play, so tonight Luka is back on vocals and Peter Hartley from 24 Carat Purple joined the band on bass. Rob must have eaten something nasty because he wasn’t his normal self and appeared to be slurring heavily. Happily he had a driver in tow, just in case the guitarist needed to hurl on the way home!
So, with 4/5ths of 24 Carat Purple playing a Burn set, it wasn’t a great surprise to see many Deep Purple songs being played. A mixed reaction tonight but that’s usual for the General Elliot. Fool For Your Loving, All Right Now, Highway To Hell, Cant Get Enough and Tie Your Mother Down were aired as well as loads of Purple. Luka set about the gig like a Rock God. Sadly, the landlady didn’t see it that way and requested a volume reduction some 10 minutes before the end of the gig! Interesting….especially as the landlord liked it!!! Some conflict there, then!!
It was great to see Warren and Carly who are expecting a baby in March. Also in attendance were Pete and Michele, who always provide Rob with raised blood pressure whenever they meet.
Chinnor Bike Dayz, July 2
Another year - another Biker Dayze all for the Air Ambulance charity. These gigs are amongst the most fun to play and the band usually turns up early to enjoy the rest of the activities.
Preceding the Burn Boys was once again, 3AM who gave a great show of bluesy rock including a couple of Zeppelin covers.
By the time Burn went on, Johnny had discovered that he had packed 2 left boots which were similar though really didn't match and he was forced to play the set in rather a large amount of discomfort. This probably only added to his angst ridden vocal performance and many in the audience said they felt real pain with every shriek & holler he made.
Garry & Rob seemed in great form and locked the music down good and tight. The band was clearly getting better as the set went on, pausing only when Johnny completely botched the arrangement of Highway Star. Still, as long as the singer keeps going then it will appear as if it is the others who are playing incorrectly and this was the technique used again by Johnny here.
A storming set, rocking deep into the evening and when the band came off stage they renewed their old friendship with the fabulous Good Old Boys who followed them on and played a brilliant set.
The Hope & Anchor, Wokingham, June 26
Paul Malyon was depping on the percussive side again due to regular drummer Garry Randall tarting himself out to another band. As always, Paul gets stuck in and only the regular listener would detect the subtle differences which are always inevitable when a key member changes. Paul tends to keep tempos around the original recorded speeds whereas the normal Burn line-up tends to try and play twice as many songs in the allotted time frame by means of a musical technique known as "rushing".
Traditional finishing song Smoke On The Water is a prime example of this. Contrast the original 1971 recording or even the classic, definitive live version on Made In Japan from 1972 and the tempo is mid paced and very powerful. The legendary riff really hits you in the solar plexus and the head cannot be prevented from bobbing up & down. Fast forward a couple of years and Deep Purple were playing the song so fast and jauntily that it took on the sonic appearance of an out take from The Good Old Days - a pastiche of Edwardian Dance Hall theatre in which the flowery comic singer would prefix his gag with "I say, I say I say".
Sadly, this has been the version Burn have been plying for a while despite brave efforts from some to "reign it in a bit", Rob's correct starting pace is seldom adhered to and by the first chorus, Johnny is preparing his hilarious "take my wife" jokes. A joke flower squirting water from his lapel and the image is complete.
Tonight's set stayed mainly with the simpler numbers but the evening didn't suffer because of this. It went down extremely well and Paul was singled out for the great drummer he is and many wondered how it was possible to so seamlessly play with the band and make it sound like he was doing it every week!
As always, talent will out, Ladies, talent will out.
The Sportsman, Croxley Green. June 4
Over a month off between gigs, the Burn Boys were keen to get back into action. What better place than the Sportsman at Croxley Green which Johnny had played many times but this was a first for the band.
The gig never really got out of the starting blocks but was also not a bad one neither. A run of the mill gig with Johnny rather struggling on his upper range vocally but making up for it on the deeper range of his mighty Fender 1964 Jazz bass.
Garry whacked the drums the way he always does, never letting up for one instant and pushing the others on and on. His vocal outing Lie # 1 was well received.
A brave attempt was made to re-introduce Tie Your Mother Down but it suffered a train wreck of epic proportions on the arrangement and looks like being dropped again for the time being.
It was all over by 10-40 due to the non musical desires of the pub neighbours who felt it outrageous that a Saturday night in Croxley should be disturbed by young people out having a jolly good time (not to mention the old farts, too) and all were home in bed by midnight, Horlicks in hand.
Rock & roll - Phew!
The North Star, Staines, April 30
No Garry Randall tonight but Burn had secured the services of Paul Mallyon again and though it had been a while since he had played with the band, it all came flooding back.
At least it did after a "largo" version of Broken Dream which went so slow that it threatened to stop mid-stream. Paul was soon on the ball and the more he pushed then it better it got!
Several songs could not be attempted as they had an arrangement which required some knowledge or at least a road map. Instead, the boys served up some other numbers such as Come Together and even Parisienne Walkways which Rob substituted many "jazz" notes until he came across the tune and earned a nice round of applause.
Johnny had sung well the night before but tonight he stretched to the other end of the quality line. Yes, it was pretty poor but few really noticed. He had been out during the day and purchased some metal washers which were now employed in holding in the bass guitar strings to prevent a repeat of last night's experience.
Applause was fairly muted though big band friend Warren was there with his family in tow and it was very excellent to see them all again.
The General Elliot, Uxbridge, April 29
On the very day that Prince William marries the Lovely Kate in London, a very different but much more exciting marriage took place within the confines not of Westminster but of Uxbridge!
The marriage of man and rock.
Every bit as regal as the Windsor's of Windsor. Every bit as royal as a King in waiting getting hitched, this was 3 commoners (and damned proud of it) pledging allegiance to the Flag of Rock and the Majesty of Roll. This was 3 soldiers in the Army of Raunch doing battle against wimpy, half arsed, middle of the road, insipid cover bands. This was "attitude" with a capital "ATT" and no apologies were going to be issued if that contravened any current Health & Safety issues laid down by a namby pamby government who should remember that broken limbs and bleeding ears are all part of what made British Rock Great.
Well, as long as it didn't hurt the band, that is.
So, a rock & roll toast was proffered to the future King and the boys laid down some sounds. Johnny was in good voice and his mighty bass playing was so powerful that he ripped the "A" string out of it's holder! This happened during Space Truckin', a song noted for it's chromatic riffing in unison between the bass and the guitar. It is entirely possible to play this song without the "A" string if you think fast enough but sadly Johnny was hampered by having to sing and remember words at the same time. This splitting of the brain motor region proved too difficult and he wimped out merely vamping along on a couple of notes till the end of the song. Fortunately, the string could be re-fitted and the gig continued albeit a little more gently on the bass front.
No such problems for rocking Rob Sas (29) who played his usual self as if his life depended on it. Well, it's not far off the truth as his rent was due that week and with bills mounting up, the thought of a move to his villa in sunny South Spain seemed very appealing. Well, he didn't have too long to wait as a holiday was imminent.
Garry Randall had no such distractions. Tonight he scored 100% on his featured vocal Lie #1 and for the first time the boys in the band played it right, too. It was enough to make a grown man weep.
A very small audience cheered the band on. It seems that crowds are a thing of the past or was it that the Royal Wedding had just partied everyone out? Later that evening, the Royals were having a good old official "knees up" and though guests numbered many hundreds, Burn weren't invited. Sods!
Wagon & Horses, Chesham, April 23
Rob & Johnny had played this venue many times as the Self Righteous Bros but now it was the full band. Surely they would have a better gig than the previous night?
Well, it seems the boys produced a better end result but not until some problems were overcome. Johnny was particularly hoarse and lacking his upper end, vocally speaking. He had brought the wrong bass guitar, too. Tonight's choice should have been his 1964 Fender Jazz but instead Johnny had brought his 1964 reissue Rickenbacker with strings on it that sounded like they too had been made in 1964. Still, a reasonable sound was produced but Rob complained that the bass was too loud, another way of saying that he could hear it and therefore it was TOO LOUD!
This was not a view shared by percussionist Garry "Wide Boy" Randall and he set to his drums with his usual conviction. Garry always gives 100% and drives the other two lazy bums along whether they want to go or not. Not only that, he sung a bit too and delivered a rousing version of "Lie no. 1" by Joe Bonamassa.
Several locals from the Rob Fan Club turned out to heap abuse/praise and the gig ended on a high note. The band sounded as tight as ever though there is a tendency to race when the band gets excited.
Two more gigs for this month then the whole of May off!
Six Bells, Brentford, April 22
A return to the six Bells - the most unlikely of venues to look at but a real cracker in terms of audience & vibe.
Sadly, the audience was out numbered by the band and bar staff. Ok, not really, but not far off it. A disappointing turn out for sure after the success that the band's first gig had been. Doubly sadly, the band reacted rather negatively towards this and only turned in a half hearted performance. Tempo's sped up seemingly in an effort to reach the songs conclusion and Johnny's voice seemed all but shot by the interval.
Burn rarely turns in a bad performance but this was rather going through the motions for much of the set. Drummer Garry Randall gave his all but even he failed to set the night on fire. However, the few punters that were there enjoyed themselves and much praise was forthcoming, deserved or not.
Sadly, this was one of the last gigs the venue put on and news filtered through that they had closed their doors to music and all subsequent gigs were cancelled. Bad news, indeed and another venue bites the dust.
A disappointing gig but 24 hours later the boys would return to the stage with all guns firing.
The Blacksmiths Arms, St. Albans, April 16
That rarest of rare things - a new venue for the band!
Initially, it didn't look as if it was going to be a Burn gig but as the evening unfolded it proved to be a cracker.
The band played well considering the lay off of 3 weeks and went down a storm. One stunning lady kept getting up to "dirty dance" right in front of the boys and it was all Rob could do to keep strumming as his eyes popped out of his brain.
Despite this or possibly because of this, Garry forgot to feature his one & only big vocal number, Lie # 1 so this must not happen again. It's taken so long to get a new song in the set, let's play it more than once, eh?
Praise all around and the band was extremely happy even Johnny who considered taking a taxi to his car, such was the distance and difficulty of getting parked in St Albans town centre.
Rock On, Ladies.
The Hope & Anchor, Wokingham, March 26
Back to the Hope & Anchor, a real favourite of the band's and things looked good for another cracker of a gig.
The audience are always in the mood for good music and the boys hit their stride early on. Following much of the previous nights set including a better attempt of Lie #1, the band stormed the evening away. The set is never definite as the band likes to chop and change as they see fit. Certain songs usually get played but the element of danger is always there.
New songs have been discussed recently though there seems to be a clear disparity about how the band is perceived.
The rhythm section of Johnny & Garry favour the traditional, guitar based, 70's classic rock of the Deep Purple, Bad Co, Free ilk. Whilst being not averse to some of the more popular songs by these combo's, guitarist Rob Sas prefers a more glam approach to music these days and his suggestion of top hard rocking, metal band, Loverboy was met with some scepticism. Never let it be said that Burn doesn't enjoy a good gag when it hears one and is as fond of mirth as the next man but the jury is out on this one at the moment. Suggestions from Garry & Johnny that perhaps Budgie or Zeppelin would be more appropriate were countered with the infinitely more off-the-wall Umbrella by hardened rock babe, Rihanna.
Expect to hear additions to the set from other rock sources such Big In Japan, Vince Hill and Justin Bieber.
Jolly Sportsman, Chesham, March 25
The band had played this venue before but only as part of a charity blues festival featuring many different bands. Rather than helping the band's career, it actually introduced drummer Ross Elder to rival band, Abakus and it was not long before he defected with the promise of more work, more variety of songs and more money. The Critic and Burn cannot understand his decision.
This was just Burn tonight, though which was just as well as they chose to play a cracker.
The evening started well for bassist Johnny Heywood as he was accosted by a Slovakian blonde lady in the car park who decided to accompany him into the venue. It seemed like shades of the past when the band was young and such things happened without surprise. Debauchery seemed likely but on close examination the inebriated state of the lady in question suggested the Heywood magic was not necessarily the deciding factor here. Snogging lips which smelled of vomit was not an option and instead, he settled down for an evening of debauched rock instead.
Playing the mighty Alembic bass, Johnny was in magnificent voice. Indeed, he needed to be as drummer/vocalist Garry Randall decided to make his vocal debut tonight. Choosing Joe Bonamassa's Lie #1, he launched into the number with a ferocity that belied his tender nature. Percussively drumming at the same time, Garry was terrific and the number is sure to be a regular in the set, perhaps leading to more vocal outings for the boy. The arrangement was confusing but that's to be expected in a first attempt and it's bound to be played correctly tomorrow night!
Rob played like a demon and pundits were excited in their praise of the band. Johnny said that "gigs like this remind me why I still do this," and was very pleased with life in general.
Current faves amongst band members are Heaven & Hell, a very difficult song to perform and Lady Starstruck, rapidly becoming a stage tour-de-force.
Greenacres, Hemel Hempstead, March 19
Burn gave the audience of Greenacres 3 halves tonight as the boys felt that they would give real value for their beer. It's a sign of the very generous nature of the band that they would offer this selflessly and not even ask the landlord for any extra money. Well done, Boys!
Generously giving of his rhythms, Drum-ist Garry Randall shared his rich talent amongst a fairly busy group of punters. Although Garry tends to veer nearer the faster end of the song tempo spectrum, he feels this gives a chance to play more songs within the space of a single night and by halving the set three times, even more music to share. It's a wonderful attitude but unsurprising and typical of the man, given his physical similarities to Santa Clause.
You don't need to ask Guitarist Robbie "Generous" Sas for more as he willingly gives all he owns and sometimes more whenever he steps onto a stage with his Burn friends. Musical speaking, what's his is yours, his castle is your castle and make yourself at home are all phrases he regularly offers albeit through the strings of his guitar and not actual words. It's a wonderful attitude but unsurprising and typical of the man, given his physical similarities to Mother Theresa.
Finally, handing out alms to the poor is the norm for bassist/sing-ist Johnny Heywood. His charity work is legendary though he doesn't like to talk about it and he seldom has any money on him as he will have given the last of his change to beggars in the street and to those not as fortunate. It's a wonderful attitude but unsurprising and typical of the man, given his physical similarities to Jesus Christ.
Using an Alembic bass, Johnny discovered that it's long neck led to loss of position especially in the rather poor lighting of the venue. Some interesting jazz notes were sprinkled throughout the set but there again, such generosity should be applauded.
Good to see Long Time Burn Fan, Teeny Weeny back in the saddle again after recent bout of illness. Her accompanying singing has been missed and her dance routines are the stuff of legend.
Belle Vue, High Wycombe, March 12
For the band's fifth gig of 2011 it was back to the Belle Vue in Wycombe, scene of many a great night and last played on Boxing Day.
A more sombre affair this, though drummer Garry Randall is not a man who needs Xmas celebrations to have a good time. He was on top form and continued his pounding of the pig skins much the same way he finished the night before - loud, hard & not adverse to volume. "If a thing is worth doing then it's worth over-doing," admits the tub thumper and demonstrated how much punishment a set of commercially available drums can stand.
On fundament and mixing in a little top line vocal was Johnny Heywood. After a pleasing vocal performance last night, Johnny found himself on tippy toppy condition and sung as loud and as high as he could. "If a note is reachable then I'll attempt to go above it," he squeaked and demonstrated how much punishment the human vocal cords can stand.
Once again, Banjo strummer Rob Sas confessed to being a little under the weather but it seemed all sunshine from where we were watching. Indeed, there were no clouds visible as he pointed out, "If I seem to be out of sorts then I grab the volume control and just turn it up," and demonstrated how premature deafness can be aided in a closed space.
Colin, long time fan of the boys claimed this to be the best gig ever by Burn, no mean achievement after all this time. Mr Big got an airing and Radar Love looks like being a regular.
Rising Sun, Slough, March 11
A welcome return to the best venue in Slough - The Rising Sun.
It had been closed for several months and was sadly missed but recently doors were opened again and the rock began in earnest. In the current climate, bands need every venue there is and Burn was especially pleased to be treading on old turf.
It had been over a month since the Burn Boys blasted big, bad sounds but no-one would have known it. Mighty Garry Randall was on fire - not literally as then he would have caused a health & safety issue, but musically and rhythmically, he was an inferno who could not be extinguished. Well, not until he got paid at the end of the night. Up until then he pushed, prodded and pulled the band in a variety of directions like a great big pushy, pully, proddy guy and the band had no option but to follow.
They were glad they did for on bass and occasional vocals was Johnny Heywood, a man who doesn't normally need pointing in the right direction though when he does, he has a Tom-Tom of his own and never asks the right way even when he's lost. Tonight, he knew just where he was. Indeed, he used to live in Slough but even with that in mind, he shared a stage with Garry as one giant, cohesive unit. Separate but together, they grooved as one and laid down a hot bed of rock allotment for Rob to sew his musical seeds in.
Yes, Rob Sas. Sixty seven years old if he's a day but looking like a man in his early 50's, he confessed to being "under par". Of course, Rob's par is another man's limit and few can touch his incendiary playing when he's asleep let alone awake which he was for much of the set.
The audience loved the band and would have had them play well into the night except for Garry destroying his bass drum on the last number and being too lazy to change it, called a halt to the show after a quick version of Bullfrog Blues.
Great to have the venue back in action!
Six Bells, Brentford, February 4
A disappointing start to the evening for bassist/vocalist Johnny Heywood who received a call from home as he pulled up at the gig, to inform him that the bass amplifier has been left outside his garage. Fortunately, this amp had been taken into safe custody by a friendly neighbour but it meant the bass had to be put through the PA. This sounded very poor but as no-one seemed to notice or comment, Johnny was left wondering why he bothered with the very expensive, very heavy gear at all! "Heathens," he noted, referring to the Great British Public's Musical tastes.
The band found themselves having to wait till England's rugby team quashed the Welsh on the TV which delayed the start till 9-30. Rob was already showing the strain of one who would rather have been somewhere else. Setting up had been a problem with the boys trying to squeeze into a cramped space. It seemed like a gig from hell was in progress.
Pleasantly, it was quite the opposite. The audience were totally behind the band and this egged them on to greater heights. Rob & Garry turned in stunning performances & one fan gushed about how young Johnny's voice sounded. "Yes, considering the old fart's body that it emanated from you mean," he countered.
Two encores and two re-books meant that this gig had been saved from the depths of despair and raised to the heights of elation. Rather well done I should say.
General Elliot, Uxbridge, January 28
Here we are more than a month on from Christmas and there are no real signs that anyone has recovered either physically or financially. Hence, there was a smaller crowd than might be expected at the General tonight.
Nice to see Warren and family in attendance for their first gig in a while. The band responded with a great show. Garry hammered his kit into submission, Rob soared and shred and Johnny pummelled the bass as Burn blasted it's way through a familiar set. Only Johnny's vocals were off tonight as he failed to reach the upper regions of his range.
"Yes, I've been fairly crap for a while now and I don't know whether it's age or just a fleeting thing. I'll give a few more gigs then retire if it doesn't get any better as I feel I am letting the fans down by not reaching my dizzy heights of talent."
Consideration will be given to the possibility of a new Burn vocalist if one can be found who can sing the vast range of Burn's repertoire from the deepest depths to the highest heights. From the rocking-est rollers to the ballad-ish ballads and all points in between. Can such a person exist? Would he be human? Speak English? Especially given the price range he would have to work within.
Let's see what happens at the next gig first.
Greenacres, Hemel Hempstead, January 9.
A sluggish start to the New Year.
The audience was also probably suffering from the post-Xmas-blues and the band failed to light them up sufficiently though Burn itself was nicely lit up by the rare use of the Band Lighting Rig. Very nice it all looked, too!
Johnny admitted having trouble hitting the high notes even with the aid of a small step ladder which he carries round with him for such times.
Garry had gaffa taped the sticks to his hands as he complained he was having trouble holding them tonight. This is a common problem for drummers and can be caused by a variety of stress problems due to over work, carpal tunnel syndrome, gripping too tightly and over-masturbating.
Not a problem Rob Sas deals with as he can always find someone to do it for him and so was gripping the neck of his Stratocaster firmly but lovingly. Indeed, Rob was the only band member to reach par tonight so he got a nice gold star at the end.
The New Year is off and running.