Review of Opera House Gig 2/2/13 written for JEP, but published by them in an abridged form. Therefore, here is the full version for anyone who agrees Stray earned their share of the writeup:
Last Saturday, The Opera House played host to not just one, but two exceptionally fine hard rock bands. Although, sadly, the venue was half-empty, the sparse audience were delighted with their evening's entertainment.
First on were the current incarnation of 1970s heavy metal pioneers Stray. Original guitarist Del Bromham has added the front man's skills of fine tenor vocals and engaging Cockney banter over his long career, and served up his rhythmically precise and melodically fluent playing with great panache, while the younger drummer and newly-recruited bass player provided appropriately powerful accompaniment. They played both recent material and old songs from the original line-up's heyday. They are not in decline. Perhaps the strongest song of their whole set was one of the newer ones, a dark lament on the execution of shell-shocked soldiers in World War I.
By the interval, many of the audience felt they had already had their money's worth. However, more was to come. Blue Coupe swaggered on stage with the confidence befitting their backgrounds as international stars with Blue Oyster Cult and Alice Cooper, and launched into a rousing version of the latter's ”I'm Eighteen”. Blue Coupe are a slightly different recipe to their support act, in that they are more about the songs than the way they play them, but these veterans still bring their repertoire alive with the raw energy of a high-school band. The vitality of the Bouchard brothers and the charisma of bassist Dennis Dunaway guaranteed sparkling performances of many of the highlights of their respective back catalogues; BOC's thunderous “Godzilla”, haunting “Astronomy” and roof-raising “Don't Fear the Reaper”, Alice's storming “Under My Wheels” and climactic “School's Out” and many more beside.
Having brought a sizeable fraction of the audience to their feet, by the end of the main set, the band needed little pleading to return for a lengthy encore of bluesier songs, such as “Roadhouse Blues” and “Spoonful” featuring Jersey's own harmonica star Giles Robson as a guest.
All in all, it was a fine evening's music for a modest ticket price, and the many rock fans who left so many seats unbought can now give themselves a good kicking.