Bumblefoot_-_photo_by_Katarina_Benzova_art_by_SavanasArt_fire-guitar@Newcastle O2 Academy, March 3 2015

Coming on stage wearing a black and white jersey usually guarantees a warm response in the Toon. But this was a crowd gathered to witness true guitar wizardry so they weren’t giving their applause away cheaply. 

Launching straight into his opening number, Abnormal, disaster struck for Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal as his failure to prepare saw the batteries die on his guitar – making for a stop-start approach which required a bit of improvisation and the gift of the gab to keep a tough Geordie crowd onside.

After the initial setback, Bumblefoot roared through his set, wielding his axe with ease and perfection as he pulled numerous first class solos out of the bag. While this was to be expected from the current lead guitarist of one of the greatest guitar bands of all time, it does mean that Bumblefoot’s vocal range often goes unappreciated.

Axl Rose knows how to find musicians who can sing, and offer strong backing vocals on stage, and Thal is no different. While no one will argue that he has the range of Guns N Roses’ main man he has the ability to capture an audience with room filling vocals that are highly adaptable from track to track.

Having stated last year that his focus would be placed heavily on his solo career, Bumblefoot must feel he’s living in two completely separate worlds as he goes from selling out arenas with GnR to a passive crowd of middle aged men in a half filled Academy 2.

While he puts his heart and soul into every show, it’s clear this man belongs on the big stage where he can entertain the crowd with his theatrics. This frustration was clear to see as he brought on two Motley Crue style dancers to prance around a stage barely big enough to accommodate his guitar, never mind himself, Twister and two half naked women!

The women appeared at random moments throughout the show, coming on to dance, but in truth offered nothing more than a distraction to a crowd that were more interested in guitars than dancers.

As the night drew to a close, Bumblefoot invited the mesmeric Aurora Dawn (Alabama 3) onstage to perform Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, with the pair coming together with effortless chemistry to pull out a real show stopper, before wrapping it up with another all time classic, Sweet Child O Mine.

Adam Keys

Image by Katarina Benzova/art by SavanasArt