The Classic Rock Show, which is now in its fifth year, arrives at the Lowry Quays theatre. With its entrance tucked away at the back of the Lowry itself, the lights and reflection coming across from the fast developing and ever growing Media City make for a spectacular backdrop to the show.

The lights dim and the opening chords of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ are warmly received by the crowd, The audience is predominantly middle-aged, many of whom would have been around when Page and Plant unleashed this masterpiece for the first time in 1969. The amount of 2014 tour T-shirts its members are wearing is an indication of how well received the show has become.

On stage the nine piece band comprises of Wayne Banks (bass), James Cole (guitar), Alex Dee (saxophone, guitar and vocals), Howie G (guitar and vocals), Emily Jollands (keyboards and vocals), Karl Penny (drums), Edoardo Scordo (guitar and vocals), Carl Sentence (vocals) and musical director Steve Parry (keyboards and vocals).

Throughout the show each member of the band had a chance to shine. Tracks by the Eagles, Pink Floyd and Who quickly follow. All are impeccably delivered, to a backdrop of images and lighting befitting the artists being covered. These tracks are closely followed by ‘The Logical Song’ by Supertramp.

The audience is beginning to liven up. Maybe it is the theatre setting that is making people feel restrained, but the next two tracks, Aerosmith’s ‘Walk This Way’ and AC/DC’s ‘Back to Black’, slowly start to coax people out of their seats.

The Dire Straits’ ‘Telegraph Road’ is the first real sign of indulgence from the two lead guitarists, Mark Knopfler would have surely approved of this flawless rendition.

The first half comes to a close with a ZZ Top number and ‘Live and Let Die’ by Wings.

‘Money for Nothing’ from the Dire Straits opens the second half, while ‘Rosanna’ from Toto, with the original video playing in the background, proves also to be a crowd pleaser.

A couple of big hitters, Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ and the Eagles ‘Hotel California’, finally brings the crowd into the aisles and starts a mass outbreak of air guitar. Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ keeps the audience firmly on their feet.

Meat Loaf’s ‘Bat Out of Hell’ adds the obligatory hands in the air. The vocals are shared between Carl Sentence and Alex Dee. Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’ and Boston’s ‘More Than a Feeling’ keep the party rolling.

Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ seems to be a fitting end for what has developed into a great show, but the band announce Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Freebird’ as the final song of the night. It becomes clear that the two lead guitarists are intent on having a guitar duel here which leaves the crowd baying for an encore .

The band duly return to the stage to play the Joe Cocker version of ‘With a Little Help from My Friends’ and then the Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, bringing the gig to an end.

This is a series of songs and hits that could only have been performed in as large a theatre as this, and the band have put absolutely everything into it, making it a fantastic night. I am pretty sure that most of this audience will be back for the 2016 tour.

Photos by Billy Seagrave

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Commenting On: Lowry Quays, Manchester, 22/1/2015, - Classic Rock Show

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