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Shy – A Tribute to Steve Harris @ The Asylum, Birmingham (19/7/13)

posted 29 Jul 2013, 07:40 by Paul Woodward

Review by Woody

Well what an amazing evening this turned out to be and a heartfelt celebration of Steve’s songs. I did think the evening may have been tinged with sadness and I’m sure for those close to Steve it was but for most it was a joyous uplifting goodbye to a rare and much missed talent from the world of AOR. It was cool to see people from all over the country coming out to support this charity show and it was great to bump into some old friends as well as bump into some internet buddies for the first time. I’m sure tonight raised quite a bit of money for Brain Tumour UK after a lot of hard work put in by the band and also Steve’s wife Debbie who also helped organise the bumper bonanza Prize raffle amongst other things!

Although I refuse to complain about our current heat wave as I love it, it did feel like an oven in the Asylum! I had been totally unaware that there was to be a support band tonight, although the two sets of keyboards should have been a big clue. So local melodic rockers the Ian Danter Band took to the stage, now I’ve never heard of these guys but the rapport they had with the crowd had an air of familiarity, leaving me totally bamboozled! So someone’s left me out the loop on these guys, why they hell I am oblivious to these guys!

Now I don’t want to be overly negative about these guys as they were here supporting the event, but I found the songs quite generic and they always lacked that killer punch or hook that would draw you in. There were elements to the songs I enjoyed and they were definitely a suitable support act who are a 50/50 Yam Yam and Brummie hybrid. It just goes to show we do get along with our Brummie brethren sometimes!

Now in the current melodic rock scene decent Keyboard players are rarer than rocking horse poo, so when a young glamorous woman takes to the key’s who is introduced as a Yam Yam, I’m thinking I’ve died and gone to heaven! I was genuinely impressed with Jenna’s keyboard skills and I really hope to hear more from her in the future, melodic rock keyboardists are a rare breed here’s hoping she can bring something glamorous to the scene!

Tonight’s first set from Shy features Black Country vocalist Lee Small and consists of songs written for the final Shy album. Many fans and critics have hailed the last Shy album as one of the bands best and this is our first and last chance to hear these songs performed by Shy. Personally the last Shy album was an absolute masterpiece and it’s an album I still play regularly and enjoy. The current line-up takes to the stage – Roy Davis (Bass), Joe Basketts (Keyboards), Bob Richards (Drums) Carl Anthony Wright (Guitars) and Neil Hibbs (Guitars).

I thought it was a really nice idea to have Steve’s guitar parts played through the PA’s but I did really worry that this heart warming gesture could actually hinder the set and could potentially fall flat. My worries were quickly swept aside as we are treated to a full on pompous soaring AOR performance, obviously well rehearsed and organised to make everything run smoothly and naturally. It was extremely well executed and the crowd loved every minute of it! It’s a tribute to the quality of these songs that fans were singing loudly to each and every one of them like they were all well established Shy classic’s of yesteryear.

Lee is a very natural front man and he is very entertaining to watch and is completely at home at the front of stage. It’s a crying shame that it hasn’t been until recent years that Lee has gathered the support and respect he truly deserves as a vocalist. He’s an extremely diverse singer who can sing many different styles and he knows how to sing AOR perfectly and tonight he just blew us away with a faultless and very emotive performance. Hopefully know he’s starting to get more recognition we will hear lots more from Lee!

There are lots of big pompous keyboards on the last album so Joe has plenty to do and as many AOR fans do we love our Keyboards so it’s no surprise that when Joe is introduced he gets probably the loudest cheers. It was a bang on performance from Joe delivering all those lush beautiful keyboard moments that have become firm favourites with me. Bob and Roy provided a bit of oomph to proceedings giving the songs a bit more power live, both perform like Old pro’s and deliver the goods. Tonight sees the introduction of guitarist’s Neil Hibbs and Carl Anthony Wright who are breathtakingly amazing and I’m sure Steve would have been very proud of them. It was plain to see Neil and Carl had put a hell of a lot of time and effort into their preparations for tonight and both wore massive smiles with every response they received from the crowd.

It’s hard to pick highlights with every song really hitting the musical g spot, ‘Ran Out Of Time’, ‘Blood On The Line’, ‘So Many Tears’, ‘Only The Night’, ‘Pray’, ‘Over You’ and ‘Union of Souls’. I adored the wonderful backing harmony vocals on ‘Union Of Souls’ which also saw Lee holding one of Steve’s guitars in remembrance. Lee spoke about Steve in between songs and whilst it was sombre it was never overly sentimental and a fitting tribute to the underappreciated song writer.

We have a short interval in which Phil Docker and Ian Danter draw the raffle, which turned a little bit manic! I do have to mention Phil as his name was praised from the stage a lot as he had put a lot of behind the scenes work into making this show work, especially in making sure the first set run smoothly!

The closing set of greatest hits sees legendary front man Tony Mills take the stage to front Shy one last time. Tony was on form and all the diehard fans were treated to an excellent performance from the bands iconic singer. Having known Steve for almost a lifetime Tony gives us a few thoughts and anecdotes about the man and keeps the jubilant feeling which fits into tonight’s tribute, it never feels sad but it does keep Steve in your thoughts.

Again as I’ve previously stated the band kept their fantastic performances up and we get a fantastic set of classic AOR, it’s a rare thing now a days to see a pure AOR band live and it’s great to see SHY go out on such a triumphant high. So we got to sing along to ‘Telephone’, ‘Can’t Fight The Night’, ‘Emergency’, ‘Skydiving’, ‘When The Love Is Over’ and ‘Give It All You Got’.

‘Break Down The Walls’, closes the set and it sees Tony and Lee share centre stage, although Tony makes us sing happy birthday to Lee first! It’s a great combination of past and future Shy on vocals, both men showing with ease what great vocalists they are and why they are so well loved by the audience. As the band leaves the stage Neil Hibbs grabs Steve’s Guitar and places it on a stand centre stage, a really nice gesture and a reminder of why we are here!

There aren’t enough superlatives in the world to fully express what an awesome show this was, pure AOR delivered perfectly from start to finish. A great atmosphere and showering of love for Steve made it a truly fitting goodbye to the man and also the band. Shy may be no more but we still have the music and the memories! R.I.P Steve