Joe Lynn Turner – a rock legend and former singer of both behemoths Rainbow and Deep Purple was finally playing live on our Northern Irish shores. The name itself just conjures up many musical memories for many rock fans of a particular age. While being still active touring and releasing music this would present an opportunity to witness the man himself up close and personal on his acoustic UK tour. The show itself would be presented in an ever-popular format of music and words. Many singers had brought a similar presentation ie Dan Reed,Danny Vaughan and Mike Tramp in recent years. These shows always prove entertaining showcasing the stories behind the songs, and either dispelling or enforcing the myths and legends of the stars musical career. The ever popular Joe Lynn Turner proved to be quite the draw with ticket sales flying off the shelves, resulting in a total sellout.
Opening act local musical troubadour Jarlath Cowan proved a bit of a mixed response to a demanding rock audience who had waited over thirty years to see and hear iconic front man Joe Lynn Turner however. His set of original songs and selected cover versions generally resulted in a hit and miss affair. Many of the audience only coming alive in response to local punk legends Stiff Little Fingers song. A difficult audience to win over which he did his best to conquer. A support slot is never an easy one to do successfully-I did however like some of his own material such as the soon to be classic “Buckfast”in homage to an ever popular alcoholic brew. Kudos for the artist attempting to engage with a difficult audience and probably a case of wrong time and place.
Joe Lynn Turner-so many legendary tracks and so little time-the shows format with the audience engagement/question and answer session was obviously going to merit less musical playing time. I was quite surprised to see the stage set up with 2 mikes and guitars. Joe himself is quite an accomplished guitarist and even once stood in and played for Richie Blackmore following 1 of his legendary onstage strops…….(see link for story. https://myglobalmind.com/2015/01/01/interview-rock-legend-vocalist-joe-lynn-turner-rated-x-ex-rainbow-deep-purple/ )Indeed Joe himself actually played all the guitars on the albums by his former band Fandango..I guess he was content to let his songs and stories take priority…Having said that the dual guitar worked well with the range of chosen material.
The evening showcased a selection of songs from Joe’s long musical career-from sing a long classics to a carefully chosen selection of cover versions. Joe paying homage to some of his musical heroes through the Beatles and ZZ Top to even one of Northern Ireland’s own homegrown musical sons Van Morrisson. Even the familiar songs were given a fresh color in the acoustic format as rock anthems like Rainbows “Stone Cold” took on a completely different angle and sound. Some fans did appear particularly aggrieved that certain tracks were not played including several requests that were shouted to the stage. The beauty of these type of evenings however is that it gives the artist the opportunity to have some fun with tracks that may not feature in their regular sets. Despite apparently suffering from a head cold and apologizing for same there was no sign of any reduction in the vocal delivery or range as Joe proved a quality entertainer, as he engaged with fans both through his words and music.
Well worth the wait and credit must be given to local promoter SD Entertainment for securing an artist of his caliber to make his debut appearance, in N.ireland. Several minor gripes aside from punters regarding the length of the set but to me personally it represented a finely tuned and well delivered combination of quality music and personal anecdotes-exactly what was promised. Joe himself lived up to all his star quality but with a genuine caring and personal side. The seed has now been planted for his return with an electric band to fill in the gaps in his back catalogue with more rock anthems to play live. The demand and interest is certainly there with the N.Ireland rock audience. Over to you promoter….