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Lee Aaron @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton 17th July 2017

posted 10 Aug 2017, 15:53 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 12 Aug 2017, 15:24 ]

Review by Woody

Over the course of 2017 I have fast become a massive fan of West Midlands AOR act Iconic Eye, a band who are fast on the rise and winning new fans with every gig and release. The band recently released the Time EP which featured re-recorded versions of a few songs from the band’s debut album Hidden in Plain Sight, this is so fans can get a taste of how the band sound with new members Janey Gillard and Robin Mitchard – Which I think is an essential purchase.

Tonight, I felt the band weren’t as explosive as the last time I saw them when they supported Hardline, but they were still very dynamic and exuded confidence on stage and above else they were highly entertaining throughout their set. Tonight, saw the first live performance from their new drummer (I’m sure I’m going to get slapped for not remembering this guy’s name) and new bassist Mike Dagnall (ex-Dante Fox) who both put in strong performances with Dagnell fitting in with the energy of the bands live performances with ease and bouncing round the stage with a huge smile throughout.

Guitarist Greg Dean has taken on a very strong and confident stage presence whilst young guitarist Robin Mitchard swoops round the stage laying down licks like the guitar heroes of a bygone era – he also takes great pleasure in pointing out his name is in big letters behind him!

I adore front woman Janey Gillard who from my point of view is very important and is the main catalyst to me in increasing the bands popularity. From a live perspective Janey is extremely enjoyable to watch as she dances and rocks out and this enhances the impact of the band in the live arena – adding to that Robin’s natural guitar virtuoso stage presence they have become a very exciting live act to watch!

Janey has breathed life into Dean’s compositions, I found the debut album lacked heart and whilst the performances of Lee Small and original frontman Tim Dawes were sonically spot on – the songs felt lifeless to me. This is where Janey has kicked Iconic Eye up a notch and taken the band forward, she has given these songs some heart and delivers them with emotional connectivity and this is where Iconic Eye win me over. Janey has a strong voice and can really wail when needed – but it’s the emotive nature of her delivery and even at times some fragility which have really captured me and tonight I was treated to Janey doing this at her best.

Tonight, Janey seemed a little tongue in between songs, which was unusual as Janey comes across very confidently on stage, but she still engaged the audience and was her usual bubbly and funny self, albeit a tad more seemingly unsure. Vocally she was as amazing as ever and really benefitted from the better sound they got tonight, I felt with Hardline the sound was a little off for them so tonight the band as whole came across even better sonically.

The set list was well chosen and paced maintaining the high energy the band like to deliver. Opening with ‘You Make It’ then through ‘Don’t Stop Me From Leaving’, ‘All She Needed’ and ‘Now That I Have Found Love’. Ballad ‘Let It Rain Down’ has become really poignant, even more so following the sad passing of former bass player Gaz Slater. ‘A Better Place’ is now sung in a slightly higher register to fit Janey’s voice more naturally and the song is a thousand times better because of it. My favourite song again tonight was ‘You Knew’ which is delivered with dramatic aplomb and is instantly compelling and energising – I adore Janey’s vocals on this chorus it really gets stuck in my head and I would love to hear Janey re-record this track!

Closing with their radio friendly singalong ‘I Can Feel It’ which is undeniably catchy and Janey encourages the audience to sing along – although not as loud as when supporting Hardline, it’s still nice to hear people get involved! Now normally I’m funny with cover songs especially as the final song, FM did my head in years for years with ‘Heard It Through The Grapevine’ (Yawn!) but Iconic Eye’s take on Jefferson Starship classic ‘Jane’ fit’s like a glove and Janey delivers it perfectly and it always finishes an Iconic Eye set on a high!

They have an album launch scheduled for 17th of November at the Station in Cannock – I highly recommend you be there!

I never ever thought I would ever get the chance see Canadian rock legend Lee Aaron live so I’ve been rather excitable about this gig since its announcement and the fact it was happening at my favourite venue The Robin only intensified my anticipation and excitement. I was not left disappointed Lee was bang on form and vocally flawless and jaw dropping impressive throughout – when you see a bucket-list band/singer this is the sort of performance you hope for and Lee left none of her fans disappointed with her lively performance. I really hope this is the start of her coming to these shores frequently in the future as she and not neglecting her band are simply stunning live.

Her latest album Fire and Gasoline really impressed me and has been on constant rotation since I got it so I was keen to hear some of it live tonight and was immediately pleased as they opened with a rambunctious performance of the pop rocking ‘Tom Boy’. The set was extremely varied and touched on all aspects of Aaron’s very eclectic back catalogue which I really enjoyed and embraced as a fan although there was a fair few different styles on display tonight. You got the glam rock of ‘What You Do To My Body’, ‘Sex With Love’, ‘Hands On’ and ‘Some Girl’s Do’ as well as in contrast some blues covers alongside the blues-ier style of her new album in ‘Fire and Gasoline’.

For me the heart stopping fanboy moment of the night was from Lee’s AOR phase, ‘Powerline’, those keyboards could have made me explode even before Lee got to that slick and catchy chorus she then neatly segues into ‘Lady Of The Darkest Night’ which is delivered with melodic majesty! Obviously, this early cut was from her ‘Metal Queen’ album but I felt tonight was delivered in a slicker more AOR way than on that album.

We were treated to a new song – which I think was called ‘Diamond’ which was very impressive and sticks true to Lee’s on-stage comments that her next album will be in Blues based hard rock territory. Lee’s next album is already being recorded and it’s good to see her following up ‘Fire and Gasoline’ with a new album so soon!

Lee finishes a great and enjoyable set with ‘Metal Queen’ which was delivered in booming chest beating style as you’d expect from her early Metal phase. A thunderous way to conclude a very eclectic and delightful evening of rock and roll! Here’s hoping she comes back soon – I hope she knows Led Zeppelin are from right here in the Black Country – So if you’re going to release an album of blues based hard rock you’ve got to come and play one of the genre’s greatest bands heartland, right?

One of the best gig’s I’ve ever been too and I’m ecstatic she came to play a venue like the Robin, which gave her a great sound which showcased her songs in their best possible light. Lee was a delight to watch perform and she’s a natural born rock star live, I enjoyed her in-between songs banter and she’s still as beautiful as when her career started way back in the Eighties. Aaron was pleased to see so many women in the audience as she points out her previous shows on this European tour have been male dominated! There is so much more to Lee than a pretty face, she has a powerful rock vocal and is extremely versatile as can be heard from her eclectic body of work – so it’s good that she saw this mixed crowd as a positive rather than a bunch of horny dude’s coming to stare at her!

If she comes to the UK next year I highly recommend getting your asses out to see her, you won’t be disappointed – long live the ‘Metal Queen’!