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STRAY/Good Thinking, The Standard, Walthamstow 11 November 2011
Photos by Noel Buckley
A sense of
rock n roll history was what this gig was about. It was a night of
sadness as one of the longest running pub music venues in London is
shortly to go under the developer's hammer, and this was the last show
there by original bands. It was fitting then that it should feature two
bands who trace their roots way back too.
none other than GRTR!'s esteemed photographer Noel Buckley, Good
Thinking have a fascinating back story. They split up 35 years ago,
and drummer Mark Evans went on to international fame with Warrior Soul,
but was tragically murdered a few years ago.
reuniting to make a tribute single to him, the band have again picked up
their instruments, even recording a new album, and this was their live
debut. With a laid back sound influenced by the likes of the Eagles and
Dire Straits, they were some distance in style from Stray but went down
Walking In My Old Shoes and Street In New York had a country feel but
the eponymous Good Thinking you could also rock out to as the occasion
demanded, with guitarist Warren Davis impressively versatile.
tribute to Mark, Warrior Soul, was movingly heartfelt, before ending an
enjoyable 40 minute set with the old blues standard Further On Up the
Road. Even if it took tragic circumstances to bring them together again,
they still have much to offer.
have now been recording and touring on and off for over 40 years but
have defied convention by becoming harder and heavier, rather than
mellowing, with the passing years.
original member Del Bromham is a fiery guitarist who really should be
bracketed with the heroes of classic rock, and Karl Randall and Stuart
Uren, whose frenetic drumming adds a whole new dimension, complete a
classic power trio, who kicked off at a cracking pace with Come On Over
and never let up.
It was not
all heavy riffing though, with Move A Mountain and Skin, both from their
critically acclaimed last album Valhalla, strong songs with solid
pleasure in being on the stage, and the way he dedicates songs to
individual fans, adds to Del's appeal.
Song - oddly the sole pick from perhaps their classic album, Saturday
Morning Pictures, Only What You Make it, the first cut from their 1970
debut got a rare airing and featured some heavy slide guitar playing.
Jericho, with a jig-like instrumental passage in the middle sounding
like Quo's Hold You Back, and Time Machine had me wishing I could step
back in a tardis of my own to the early seventies.
their current act is not based on nostalgia, and, wearing his father's
old hat with a remembrance day poppy, Del played a trio of anti-war
themed songs from Valhalla: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Free at Last,
which had an almost Motorhead-like gruff heaviness; and the epic Harry
Farr which judging by the audience reaction has become a modern Stray
classic to rank alongside I Believe iI, which soon followed and had fans
punching the air to the chorus before Del launched into a great extended
who sang on the original Stray's last two albums in the late seventies,
came out of the crowd to do a couple from that period, then only with
Buying Time did the pace momentarily drop with a drum solo.
ended in spectacular fashion with a lengthy version of All In Your Mind,
the song Stray fan Steve Harris has kept in the public consciousness,
Del stretching out and leaving his guitar swinging and emitting squeals
of feedback from a hook on the ceiling then the amps at the back.
of Hallelujah, with a snatch of Rock and Roll, and their supercharge
take on Cliff Richard's Move It were more conventional boogie fare, but
no less enjoyable.
great sweaty rock n roll venues of our youth are dropping like flies, at
least we can enjoy the pleasure of veteran bands like Stray sounding
more vital and energetic than ever.