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STRAY, Borderline, London
6 October 2010

Photos by Noel Buckley

Stray, photo by Noel Buckley

After thoroughly enjoying my first taste of an artist I knew of but had heard little of Judie Tzuke last week, tonight it was another artist's turn, Stray, who were holding an album launch party for their new album 'Valhalla'.

Well I say new but it came out last year and was  the GRTR!  'Album Of The Year'. It is getting a full release via those lovely folk at Angel Air and thoroughly deserved as it is a damn fine hard rock album.

There was a decent sized crowd swelled by a few fellow GRTR! bods and the set started at 8:30pm and lasted for two hours, only cut short by the venue's curfew.

The line-up features one original member in guitarist Del Bromham, who has also taken on the vocalist's role these past ten years or so.

Stray, photo by Noel Buckley

Stray, photo by Noel Buckley

The trio is rounded out by bassist/backing vocalist Stuart Uren and drummer Karl Randall (who looked like he had just left an 80's hair metal band!).

Luckily for me much of the opening part of the set was from the 'Valhalla' album the only music I was familiar with by the band, bar the odd song that used to pop-up on radio or rock compilations back in the 80's and I am too young to have witnessed their glory days of the 70's.

We were treated to many choice tunes of the new album including 'Move A Mountain', the very catchy hard rocker '24/7', the funky 'Skin' and 'Free At Last'.

Personal favourites of the album for me were also aired including 'Harry Farr' and 'Ghostwriter', a song with a very strong melody and chorus.

Stray, photo by Noel Buckley

The band's fans had some treats towards the end of the set as the band's original vocalist Steve Gadd (Del Bromham joked he looked like his manager now as he was wearing a dark suit) and his replacement Pete Dyer both took to the stage for a couple of songs.

Of the two Pete Dyer has the better set of vocals and stage presence. Two of the older songs stood out for me - the proggy feel of 'Jericho' and 'I Believe It', another song with a strong melody and infectious chorus.

Stray, photo by Noel Buckley

Del Bromham's guitar playing was a delight to behold and by the end of the set he was getting feedback from all sorts of places including at one stage hanging his guitar by its strap over the audience and controlling the feedback notes through his guitar pedals.

To be honest, he's worth the entrance fee alone for his on stage patter which is very entertaining be it a tribute to the late Sir Norman Wisdom via a spot-on 'Mr Grimsdale' impression or various tales about previous gigs.

A highly enjoyable gig and take the chance to see them live as they are always on the road. If you can't see them live do get the new album 'Valhalla' as it is a very strong hard rock album and worthy of all the rave reviews it has been getting.

Review  by Jason Ritchie

Photos by Noel Buckley

Stray, photo by Noel Buckley

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