This was my first visit to The Borderline since its first major makeover as they only re-opened a couple of weeks ago.
On arrival, I was a little surprised to hear the security staff asking for ID's from the people in front of me, especially as this is a gig with a crowd whose average age was likely to be above 50!!
Still, on going downstairs, it was a bit of a shock as all the Tex-Mex elements have gone and it's now one seemingly larger room painted black. The bar has moved and has better beer and spirits than before and a very trippy corridor leading to the loos. It will take some getting used to.
I arrived at about 8.10 which was 5 minutes before the headline act was due on! I hadn't realized that Grace Solero was supporting as I'd have liked to see her again, but when you come on at about 7.15 it's no surprise most of the audience miss you. I did apologize to Grace for missing her set and will try to see her again soon.
So it was soon time for Bernie Torme to play the London show on his Dublin Cowboy tour to promote his new triple album of the same name. It includes an album of new rock songs, one acoustic album and a live album all of which is down to Bernie's third successful pledge campaign as he has looked after a faithful audience over the years.
They opened with Wild West, which jarred slightly as this used to be a wild west bar and now as a black room it doesn't fit as perfectly. Nonetheless, Bernie unleashed the first of the nights solos and everyone was grinning and headbanging very happily. Dublin Cowboy was ripped though at a cracking pace and Ian Harris on drums was pummelling them like crazy. Dman, did they sound tight even when Bernie would give the odd look at a note out of place here and there.
Blood Run Cold kept the frenetic pace up and the sheer joy that Bernie exudes while playing all those astonishing licks is always great to watch. They went back to his first solo album for its title track, Turn Out The Lights: a great crunchy and a good sing-along from most of the people around me.
Bak 2 U off the new album sounded like an old classic Torme tune so went down a treat with as ever some nice flashy guitar and the new bass player whose name I didn't catch and who looked familiar giving it his all. Was Flow the next song? Not sure, but again it was fast and frantic and sounded spot on.
Star got almost everyone singing along to it as it showed Bernie knew where celebrity culture was headed all those years ago. Indeed it's more relevant than ever now. We then got properly Down In The Dirt and it was gloriously dirty too. Hair Of The Dog is obviously something Bernie has never suffered from but wrote a cracking song about anyway. It was flying at us as we needed more beer to help our heads.
Stoneship is one of the songs that seems to take them out a little bit. It's more trippy and psychedelic while still being the full on power trio they are as we wonder about all the flowers and dirt. Bernie and the bass monster then took a short break while Ian Harris took a good drum solo to show just how fluid he is before going into Rocky Road (From Dublin) as Bernie came back on refreshed to carry on playing like he was still in his 20's. He still has all the moves to get the extra sustain and reverb from his trusty guitar.
Bernie then rallied the audience to join with him and the band's cause to make sure we all know that You Can't Beat Rock & Roll. I think we all gave a collective "Hell yeah!" to that as we all sang along and some serious headbanging was going on. They then did a cool and full-on version of Trouble although without any Elvis style sneers. Before they closed with a totally frantic run at New Orleans played at a hell of a pace. A great way to close the show and then some.
They were soon back for a well-earned encore, opening with Possession that sounded as angry and passionate as it needed to be. They then went all the way back to Bernie's days with Gillan for No Easy Way. This again got everyone singing and going for it as it still sounds like a great rock song.
They then got Alec, one of the album Pledgers up to redeem his pledge as he's paid for the chance to sing Smoke On The Water with the band. Once he was stage centre, they kicked off that extremely familiar riff. It sounded great and then Alec took out his lyric sheet and started to sing it and all around me everyone looked at each other astonished. A lyric sheet for Smoke On The Water!?? He got points for Chutzpah no doubt,but afterwards, all the hardened gigaholics I was surrounded by were talking about how in the hell could you get on stage having paid to do so and not learnt the words to a song as classic as that? Oh man.
Still the odd ending didn't spoil a great gig. It would be good to see a few younger people in the audience, but damn, Bernie really is a legendary guitarist that needs to be seen and heard live whenever you can. Another great night out for sure.