Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

In its fifth year of touring, The Classic Rock Show was at Birmingham Town Hall to perform the latest celebration of The Top 20 Greatest Guitar Riffs of all time. I did not really know what to expect being a Classic Rock Show newbie, but from the first twang of a guitar string, I was not disappointed.

Kicking the evening off with Led Zepplin’s Whole Lotta Love, the two and a half hour show just flew by. A multi-talented band of five guitarists; Wayne Banks, James Cole, Alex Dee, Howie G and Ecoardo Scordo, were ably supported by vocalists, Emily Jollands and the great stage presence of Carl Sentance. Together with the unsung hero, Karl Penney on drums, it was clear that they all had exceptional skills and all brought something to the proceedings.

By stating that their set list contains The Top 20 Greatest Guitar Riffs of all time it was interesting to see if they had made the correct choices. It is a subjective issue after all; what is great to one listener may not be great to another. However, what they delivered was a wide selection of really good classics.

We had The Eagles, Life In the Fast Lane, Pink Floyd’s Money, a fantastic acoustic introduction to The Who’s Pinball Wizard, Supertramp’s The Logical Song, before Aerosmith’s Walk This Way had the audience foot tapping and clapping along.

No rock show would be complete without an AC/DC number and we were not disappointed. Back In Black was belted out whilst there was simply sublime guitar work on Dire Straits Telegraph Road. ZZ Top’s La Grange was also given delightful treatment before the first half was brought to a close with Live And Let Die which prompted the great use of lasers flashing across the Town Hall.

The second half saw us being treated to classic rock anthems from bands such as Queen, Fleetwood Mac, Guns N’ Roses and Eric Clapton. A real highlight of the evening was seeing Wayne Banks and Howie G taking part in a guitar duel during Lynard Skynard’s Freebird, which showcased their very precise skill and speed of playing which had this audience looking on in awe.

There was an absolutely fantastic version of Boston’s More Than A Feeling, with another standout number being Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell. Whilst it may have been a little controversial to include Michael Jackson’s Beat It, we were told that it had originally been performed by Van Halen, and it did make me later seek out the album to give it another listen whilst having the guitar in mind.

By the time the show was brought to an end, the Town Hall was simply rocking. Finishing with Joe Cocker’s With A Little Help From My Friends, and The Who’s Won’t Get Fooled Again, we had been thoroughly entertained. Howie G on guitar was truly amazing; Carl Sentence is a real old school singer who had great energy and a brilliant rockers voice, and the rest of the band really showcased guitar playing at its very best.

This was a sell-out concert and I can so easily see why. It was a night of great entertainment delivered by very talented musicians. Their personal choice of the greatest guitar riffs of all time encouraged debate with arguably some great omissions and with some truly fantastic inclusions. But whether you agreed or not, most of these pieces of music can be found in the glove box of the average dad’s car, and it gave us something to talk about on the journey home.

If you have the opportunity to catch one of the shows, then you will be pleasantly surprised. I was, and if they tour again for a sixth year, I will be in line for a ticket.