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Royal Albert Hall, London, 8 July 2011

Superjam 2011

Deep Purple, Newton Faulkner, Joe Bonamassa and more ...The Sunflower Super Jam 2011, Royal Albert Hall. They don't call them legends for nothing!

I grew up in the 80's and 90's, the decade after rock really was at it's best. A step behind the times, I adored and admired the talents of the 70's hard rock era, and Friday night at the Royal Albert Hall reminded me why.

The event in aid of The Sunflower Jam Charity, started with an auction, the lots on offer were enough to make you weep to sing with Bryan Adams on stage at one of his gigs, a flying lesson with Bruce Dickinson, a long weekend in Jeremy Iron's castle To name but a few.

Sadly I felt the generosity of the audience was lacking. In all honesty the auctioneer created quite a divide in the room, by referring to those in the 75-100 (cheap) seats as paupers! And the relatively small amounts of money each lot brought, reminded my why I will never be stinking rich - If I could have afforded to bid, I would have gone far higher than the few thousands that the rich people (as called by the auctioneer) bid, especially as it was for such a great cause: The Sunflower Jam Charity, set up in 2006 by Jacky Paice (wife of Deep Purple drummer, Ian Paice) really should be something on the calendars of any true rock fan.

After meeting 16-year-old Deep Purple fan and Leukemia sufferer Kevin in 2005 Jacky felt a calling to help. Seeing the value of natural medicines and the healing work that was taking place, Jacky was inspired to find a way to raise vital funds for integrated medicine practices to be used on cases such as Kevin's.

Being blessed with contacts in the world of rock, the Sunflower Jam idea was born. Across it's five-year life span, stars such as Robert Plant, Paul Weller and Status Quo have joined Deep Purple legends on the journey, and each year the event has grown.

This year's gig in the Royal Albert Hall promised to be bigger and better than ever. The MC for the evening was the incredibly dapper Jeremy Irons who at 62 still had twice the charm and sex appeal of most men half his age.

And as the first act Newton Faulkner took to the stage it was plain to see that it was going to be a gig hard to beat. Faulkner's perfect soulful tones should have had the crowd's attention from the first bar, but unfortunately I got the feeling many of the guests were not there for the music and some even continued their conversations.

Newton's rendition of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody was both breathtaking and comical. However the audience's musical knowledge disturbed me further when the American woman in our box leant over and asked 'Is that guy the original singer of this song?'

We were then treated to music by the incredible Gary Brooker (Procol Harum - Whiter Shade of Pale) whose voice, I must say, still puts men forty years his junior to shame.

Then Jon Lord (Keyboards Deep Purple), followed by the multi talented Joe Bonamassa indulged us in rock heaven a little further not to mention the guitar talents of Jack Moore (son of Gary Moore) who joined Bonamassa on stage in a tribute to his father, the late Thin Lizzy guitarist.

Other talent including Danny Bowes and Rick Wakeman, were thrown into the delightful mix giving us a real feast of entertainment, before the headline act Deep Purple appeared at 11.40pm.

The wait was over as the uncompromising bass finally moved most of the audience to its feet. The atmosphere was now almost gig-like as the suited and booted were up from the tables and crowded around the stage.

By the last song - 'Smoke on The Water' - the crowd had finally shaken the stuffiness and were 'in the moment' as Bill Bailey started playing the cowbells Yes! You heard correctly, the Legendary Rockers were introduced by none other than the scarecrow-like comedian ringing cowbells!!!

It is hard to comment on such a spectacle, give Bailey his due he was darn good at those cow bells, but as a purest rock fan I still would have preferred the famous opening riff 'sans' the comedic intro.

All in all it was a fabulous night, the organisers managed to create a large scale, yet intimate feast of rock entertainment, the only thing that let it down a little was the audience, who were under appreciative of just what a treat they were getting.

To begin with, at least (the rich people - the ones not there just for the music) seemed to enjoy the food more than the gig, which to me was just not what Rock and Roll is about.

I will be pencilling in next year's gig and grab some headbanging friends to show those who don't know their 'Queen from their Faulkner' what atmosphere really is.

To find out more about The Sunflower Jam go to

Review and photo by Charlotte Fantelli

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