Review: Grand Slam, Bannermans, Edinburgh (5/12/19)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
The new Grand Slam line-up has been driven by the vision of Laurence Archer to finally get some the original songs penned during the original Phil Lynott incarnation of the band recorded properly. This included Grand Slam being seen as a band and not a project. The recently released album goes a long way in proving that in spades. However, the real acid test for any band is can they deliver live?
The set opened with ‘Nineteen‘ after which just rocked from the off. The driving rhythm section and that superb guitar riff kicked the show off spectacularly with the vocals really sitting in the groove from Michael Dyer.
Next up is the wonderful ‘Gone Are The Days‘, which was the first video and single from the album. The song features some wonderful harmony guitars and I wondered how this would be achieved with only one guitarist. However, the harmonies were provided by the keyboards, played by one other than Gem Davis from FM, who also played with Laurence in UFO I believe. This song is just a genuine slice classic British rock and certainly snares the crowd.
‘Military Man‘ was next up kicking with some military snare and Mr. Dyer marching along. The Grand Slam version is absolutely superb, and according to Mrs. Scallan, is better than the Gary Moore version, and I tend to agree.
The only song played on the night not on the new album was ‘Harlem‘, which is another 80s Grand Slam original and executed superbly all round. One of the new compositions from the album was next, namely ‘Crazy‘. Another song driven by a great guitar riff, it again rattled along scoop up the audience with the catchy chorus and the sheer pace.
The band then returned to an old song in ‘Crime Rate‘, with Michael talking about how relevant the song is based on the stabbing epidemic in London and the fact it has happened on his own door step. This blues-based slow burner is one of my favourite songs and Michael acquits himself spectacularly in his delivery.
The title track of the album, ‘Hit the Ground‘ followed, before ‘Long Road‘ was introduced quite emotionally as it is dedicated to friend Mikael Fässberg who lost a short battle against cancer. Ironically ‘Dedication‘ was next and was dedicated to Mr Doogie White who happened to be in the audience.
The last song proper was ‘Sisters of Mercy‘ which had everybody bouncing along to the Irish jig section. The encore kicked off with Laurence demonstrating what a superb guitarist he is accompanied by Gem on keyboards before launching into the instrumental song ‘Grand Slam‘. Bringing Michael back on stage, they closed with a second rousing rendition of ‘Gone Are The Days‘.
So does the new Grand Slam stack as well live as it does on the album? Yeah bet it does and then some! I was well and truly Slammed by Grand Slam at Bannermans. With an absolutely superb set of new and classic GS material and such an accomplished band of musicians, what is not to like? In summary, superb songs, superlative playing and a charismatic and articulate front man in Michael Dyer whose voice sits right in the groove. I doff my cap to you Mr Archer and co and I would say mission accomplished thus far! I can’t wait for the next instalment of seeing you guys live!