I still can’t believe how lucky I was to witness one of the most prestigious events in the history of melodic rock, and being the only Western media person in attendance. This was the union on stage of three of the most important classic vocalists in rock history from one of the most legendary bands – Rainbow. Graham Bonnet, Joe Lynn Turner and Doogie White were here to perform classic Rainbow songs, as well as material from their solo projects.
There were only four dates in September this year, and it was agreed I could be there on the last, on September 30th, at the CC Lemon Hall auditorium in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. This venue can hold several hundred people and was almost full to capaicty for this historical concert. In Japan, the venues are usually all seated, but don’t be decieved – as the show begins, no-one remains in their seats, and they all start to cheer the musicans as the appear on stage.
Joe Lynn Turner was backed by his Japanese band, which has accompanied him on other Japanese shows: Akira Kajiyama on guitars, Toshio Egawa on keyboards, Atsushi Hasegawa on bass and on drums, Kenichi Fujimoto. This was the band also used by Doogie White to perform some Rainbow classics, while Graham Bonnet appeared with Alcatrazz, with his set-list alternating beween songs from his Rainbow days and Alcatrazz classics. For this line-up we had Howie Simon on guitar, Tim on bass and Jeff Luce Bowders on drums.
Although there were only the three singer present, I really have to say that everyone paid great tribute to Ronnie James Dio with words of friendship and warm memories, and also performing several songs from the first three Rainbow albums, dedicated to Dio.
The concert began with Joe Lynn Turner and his gang rampaging through ‘Spotlight Kid‘ and then taking no prisoners with ‘I Surrender‘. Joe was very loose and very comfortable on stage and the band were at the height of their talents and blended superbly. It was clear the advantage of much touring together had brought to the show, and the band continued in such awesome form with songs like ‘Drinking With the Devil‘ and ‘Street of Dreams‘.
Then the baton was passed to Doogie White who came on stage to perform three songs from the sole Rainbow album he appeared on, ‘Stranger in Us All‘, with wonderful renditions of ‘Black Masquerade‘, ‘Ariel‘ and ‘Hall of the Mountain King‘. Doogie was the first to pay tribue to Dio with a few words before treating us to an emotional version of ‘Temple of the King‘ to end his brief tenure, for the moment.
Joe then came back on stage with words of tribute to Dio and continued with ‘Stargazer‘, with the final leg of this part of the show featuring ‘Can‘t Let You Go‘, ‘Can‘t Happen Here‘ and ‘Death Alley Driver‘, which while being a decent end lacked the surprise in the middle where Joe and Doogie – hand in hand – performed ‘Power‘ together, clearly showing what a great time they were both having on this tour.
After a break of 15 minutes Alcatrazz appeared on stage. Graham Bonnet and his band, being headliners, had a more varied repertoire, focussing more on Alcatrazz, although he opened his show with MSG’s ‘Assault Attack‘ before hitting us with the Alcatrazz classic ‘Too Young to Die, Too Drunk to Live‘. Graham Bonnet is the consummate showman, as always, with his peculiar and active style, forcing his voice to the limit. The band continued with ‘Since You Been Gone‘ before revisiting Alcatrazz for ‘God Blessed Video‘, then honoring Dio with a version of Rainbow’s ‘Love’s No Friend‘ before returning to Alcatrazz for ‘Kree-Nakooorie‘, ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour‘, ‘Will You Be Home Tonight‘ and ‘Skyfire‘, after which Howie Simon took centre stage for a great guitar solo. The band returned on stage to give us ‘Bad Girl‘ and ‘Jet to Jet‘, followed by a Jeff Boweders drum solo before finishing with ‘Lost in Hollywood‘, a classic from Rainbow’s ‘Down to Earth‘ album.
But the best was yet to come, as for the encore they were joined on stage by Joe Lynn Turner and Doogie White, with Howie Simon now resplendent in a Dio t-shirt as all three vocalists joined in on an amazing ‘All Night Long‘ and finished the night with another tribute to the never forgotten Ronnie James Dio with a simply storming version of ‘Long Live Rock and Roll‘.
At the end, the feeling was one of having witnessed something truly unique, enjoying the three former Rainbow singers on stage together, majestic performers either alone or together ... a group of friends getting together to celebrate something special and to share that enjoyment with the audience. This wonderful, magical evening that was only performed four times in Japan, and was one that I was lucky enough to witness in person.
Jesus Garcia Forés
City Of Dreams