Review of New Centre Stage DVD By Pete Feenstra in Advance of the launch gig on the 23rd Oct at Sutton FC

There can be no better occasion than a 20th anniversary and a packed festival stage to film a band in its pomp.  And this DVD does the trick. Filmed simply as a one camera shoot of Roadhouse’s record breaking 8th appearance at the 2010 Skegness Rock & Blues Festival, ‘Centre Stage’ is a live document of one of the UK’s hardest working rock/blues band. The camera angle looks down over the front ranks of the packed crowd to catch the essential connection between the band and an enthusiastic crowd as Roadhouse work their way through the meat and potatoes of their current ‘Dark Angel’ album.  

There’s a nice balance between the sparkling solos of the mighty Danny Gwillum stage left – who mixes his scintillating attack with dirt sounding slide – and Gary Boner, stage right, whose fiery licks kick start an impressive succession of self penned songs. And centre stage (no pun intended) is the three girlie triumvirate of Mandy Graham, Kelly Jo Hobbs and Suzie D, who during the course of a high octane performance, dance their way through a frisky routine while shifting between fine harmony singing and backing vocals to singing one lead vocal each.

Roadhouse 'Rock out'

And while the video provides plenty of slinky glamour and showcases a dependable festival band at their best, it is Gary Boner’s songs that hold sway. Most of the material comes from the current ‘Dark Angel’ album, of which ‘Too Tired To Pray’ features the sharply contrasting Boner vocal growl and the female bv’s, neatly offset by some  beautifully nuanced slide from Danny

The following ‘Rainmaker’ is one of their very best efforts with Gary’s whispered vocals over a very strong melody and gospel style backing with a country hue. The slow burning title track ‘Dark Angel’ features an expansive solo from Gary but is ironically slightly hampered by some indifferent camera work.

Suzie D gets her chance to shine on the sleazy ‘Lying Game’, while Kelly shimmies up the mic to make the most of another Boner classic ‘The Big Easy’, complete with twin guitar lines. And just when you’re marvelling at the substance of several superbly arranged songs and great playing, up steps Mandy G to steal the limelight with a raucous version of ‘House of the Rising Sun’. It may not be the most original cover but she brings real raunch and an undoubted visceral edge to the song to grab the audience by their collective lapels and generate real excitement in the packed hall.

It’s left Gary Boner to kick into start a big two song finale with more fiery licks on the dynamic call and response lines of ‘Tellin’ Lies’ and the Skynyrd  meets Classic rock steal that is ‘Preacher Man’

‘Centre stage’ is a fine limited run dvd for the fans but if it should fall into the hands of unsuspecting rock fans they won’t fail to be impressed by a fiercely independent band whose quality material, rock solid rhythm section, consummate playing  and rock blues crossover style will surely win over many more festival audiences in the future. 

**** (4/5)

© Pete Feenstra

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