Concert Reviews

John Waite (2011) Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 14, 2011    
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John Waite - Grand Theatre, Lancaster (UK) - 14th of April 2011.

It seems odd now to think that up to three years ago I'd never seen John Waite perform live, even though I own everything the man has ever recorded. This low-key hometown gig would be my third Waite show in as many years and the first at which he would be promoting a great new album, the excellent 'Rough And Tumble' (please click here to read the Rocktopia album review), his finest for many, many years. Looking through the upcoming shows in the foyer it seems the Victorian Grand Theatre is more suited to old music hall comedians and pantomimes than rock gigs, but tonight it's well populated by Waite fans and the man's entire family.

Strolling onto the stage in his trademark suit, John and his band (long-time bassist Tim Hogan, new guitarist Kyle Cook (Matchbox Twenty) and drummer 'Rondo') launch into 'Change' without any fuss, the 'Ignition' track having become his traditional warm-up song of late. Once suitably relaxed (Waite has been a bit ropey on the opening song each time I've seen him), The Babys' 'Back On My Feet Again' gives way to the first new song, 'Evil', a sassy stomper much suited to his stripped down live act. Although I'm not as enamoured of Kyle Cook as I was his predecessor, Luis Maldonado, Cook does well on the new arrangement of 'Mr. Wonderful', which Waite delivers with great charisma after indulging in a bit of banter with a friendly heckler.

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The emotional 'In Dreams' gives way to 'Better Off Gone' from the new album, but those unfamiliar with the newer songs seemed to get restless and there was much wandering about, even though the bar had long since closed. He had their attention again for the sole Bad English tune, 'Best Of What I Got', but seemed to lose them again during a series of lesser known downbeat tunes, even though personally I thought the harrowing 'Suicide Life' was superb and few can tell a sad story like Waite does. Rondo's short drum solo had the smokers heading for the front door, several not getting back in time for 'Missing You', whilst the excellent title track from the new album and the Tina Turner song 'Sweet Rhode Island Red' bring the set to a close.

They come back on for a brace of songs by The Babys, 'Every Time I Think Of You' and the brilliant 'Head First', and go off again, emphasising my feeling that not only is Luis Maldonado the best guitarist Waite has had of late, but also that he's a far better singer than any of Waite's current band, which would explain the absence of 'Isn't It Time' from the set. All told, not the best John Waite show I've seen but he's still a compelling performer with his own unique style and voice.

Phil Ashcroft


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