ROBIN BECK / Captain Black Beard, Göta Källare, Stockholm, 2015-05-24

Robin Beck“Thank you all for showing up. I haven’t been to Stockholm for about seven years, so thanks for remembering me and showing up tonight”. Those words were Robin Beck’s, in between two songs. That means that she played my city in 2008 or so. Why wasn’t I there then? Or more accurate, why didn’t I have a clue of that she had even played in Stockholm before? When Robin Beck played Sweden Rock Festival last year, I thought that was the first time she played in Sweden. But apparently not. Well, being a Robin Beck fan since 1989 when I bought Trouble Or Nothin’, going to this gig was a no-brainer. The first thing that I noticed when I arrived at the club was how empty it was. When the opening act, Captain Black Beard, went on, the place was embarrassingly empty – there couldn’t have been more than 30 people in there. Poor opening act. Judging by their name, I would have thought they looked like truck drivers, tattooed with huge beards, beer bellys and baseball caps, screaming their way through a heavy metal rampage set. Well, nothing could be further from the truth – they actually looked like normal rockers, no more no less and they were actually really good. This was straight forward hard rock complete with some big hooks and for some of the songs, really radio friendly melodies. But they were never cheesy and always keeping the rock in front. Despite the small crowd, they kept the spirit up, obviously happy just get on the stage this Sunday evening. The closer we got to Robin Beck’s gig, the more people got in, but I’m sad – and a bit ashamed – to say that the place wasn’t exactly sold out. There couldn’t have been more than a 100 people in there and frankly, I felt sorry for Beck and her band because they deserve so much more. That said, Robin Beck has never been huge in Sweden so booking her for a Sunday night might not have been a genius move from the promoters. Fact, Sundays sucks! Why? well, because for most people, by Sunday the weekend is gone and this means work the day after which means early Monday morning. Also, people have a tendency to feel very comfortable in front of their telly and really can’t be arsed to move. The fact that Robin Beck’s AOR smelling rock also holds an older audience means that there usually are families involved which means kids and if you’re going out and have kids, you need a sitter which might not be the easiest thing to get on a Sunday night. I can almost guarantee that they would have tripled the number of visitors if this gig had taken place on a Saturday or Friday night.

Oh well, the small crowd didn’t seem to bother Beck one bit, she was all smiles from the first song to the last and the whole band really gave their all to make this night as good as possible for us who were there. Robin and her band – featuring her husband (lucky bastard…), House Of Lords frontman James Christian on bass and vocals, Jorge Salan and Tommy Denander on lead guitars and drummer Pontus Engborg – opened up with “If You Were A Woman (and I Was a Man)” from her breakthrough album Trouble Or Nothin’, just like they did at Sweden Rock last summer. Mind you, this was the song that Desmond Child, who did write it, rewrote and made it Bon Jovi’s first mega hit “You Give Love A Bad Name”. It was released by Bonnie Tyler first, but I always thought Beck’s version rocked Tyler’s into next week. Beck showed us that little – or none – of her range has disappeared with age – she still sound amazing and hit notes like you wouldn’t believe. Her cover of John Waite’s “Don’t Lose Any Sleep” follows and even though the tune is on the border of a ballad, it still rocks live. Picking a big power ballad as the third number is a brave move, but it works like a charm. “Hold Back The Night” is such an amazing track that it really can’t go wrong. It’s really impressive that Beck nails it as it goes really high vocally – really high. Interesting enough, Alice Cooper is the co-writer with Child on that track – I would love to hear Cooper hit the high notes on that song. As if. “The One”, the opening track from her 2011 album The Great Escape follows and it really holds up well beside her Trouble Or Nothin’ classics. It’s a big chorused AOR rocker that should be a hit in a perfect world – an underrated song from an underrated album. “Save Up All Your Tears” – also recorded by both Cher and Bonnie Tyler, but again Beck is the winner – follows and it’s easy to see that it’s a popular song – everybody was singing along. “All That Depends”, where Beck sang a duet with Joe Lynn Turner on The Great Escape, hits us, now with James Christian taking Turner’s place and it’s a real live killer. Now, Christian does Turner’s part justice – and then some. Do I even have to point out what fantastic singer James Christian is? “The Great Escape”, is also a live killer and that album has to be Beck’s finest moment beside Trouble Or Nothin’! Beck announces “Tears In The Rain” as one of her favourites and I can only agree. It’s a fantastic song that I have loved since go and she does the song with conviction and emotion, it sure feels real all the way. One of the highlights this evening. Beck’s latest album Underneath came out in 2013 and “Wrecking Ball” is my favourite song off that record – so lucky me that she decided to rock this one out tonight – brilliant. “Catfight” happens to be my least favourite song from said album and that one came next. However, the same song that I felt was a bit ridiculous on the album, gets new life live. I know she did it on Sweden Rock as well, but I didn’t get it then. I do now. It has a groove to hit that makes it hard to resist live and it gets a new life from the stage. Beck leaves the stage for the band to blues-jam on a song called “The Thrill Is Gone”, vocals handled by guitarist Jorge Salan – a tribute to B.B. King who passed away recently –  and wow what a killer jam that was. It really showed just how tight the band really is. Salan sure is an impressive player – lots of groove and feel mixed with a shimmering technique. Denander also gets to show his skills and the guy really is a brilliant guitarist – but we all knew that. After that, it is time for Beck’s biggest hit ever – yes, the Coca Cola commercial “First Time”. I have to admit that the song has never appealed to me at all. I find it mediocre and dull and in my book, Beck has shitloads of songs superior to this one, but of course, I know it has to be played. But the best reception of the night is given to “Hide Your Heart”, another tune Bonnie Tyler recorded first. It has also been released by Kiss (Paul Stanley did co-write it), Ace Frehley and Molly Hatchet, but again, Beck’s version is the winner – by far. It’s also this night’s winner – Beck and her band nails it so hard.

According to the set list, they should have ended the set with “Follow You” from Underneath, but she was complaining about the smoke machine earlier and I guess the smoke screwed with her vocal chords and she couldn’t do the last song justice. Bummer, but the song is really not pivotal in her set and the 13 songs we did get were all just phenomenal. I did rave about her guitar players and about James Christian, but we can’t forget about drummer Pontus Engborg. A great time-keeper, tighter than a camel’s ass in a sandstorm and also a great showman. He also looks like he’s trying to kill his drums while playing. Song wise, there’s nothing to complain about, but I must admit that I missed “In A Crazy World Like This”, one of my favourite Beck songs that I think deserves to be a part of the set. Afterwards I heard some complaints about the sound, but no major slips in that department in my opinion. To end this review I must say that it’s really impressive that someone who has turned 60 still has the same set of pipes that she had 30 years ago and more, Beck has always been drop dead gorgeous and nothing has changed in that department either, she’s still a knock-out and it’s impossible to grasp her actual age. Even though there was a small attendance this evening, Beck did a meet & greet kind of thing after the show and she was all smiles and extremely nice and easy-going. I really hope that the small attendances has deterred Beck and her crew from visiting Stockholm again later on because she’s really a great gig. Those who stayed home really missed out on a great concert and I can recommend any lover of melodic rock to go se her if she’s in your town. But next time, promotors, please book her on a Saturday or Friday.

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)
Photo: Hanna Henrikson

Setlist:

1. If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man)
2. Don’t Lose Any Sleep
3. Hold Back The Night
4. The One
5. Save Up All Your Tears
6. All That Depends
7. The Great Escape
8. Tears In The Rain
9. Wrecking Ball
10. Catfight
11. The Thrill Is Gone
12. First Time
13. Hide Your Heart

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