It’s been a while since the “Harlech Hurricane” sashayed her stuff on the Staines stage, accompanied by her conspicuously talented bandmates.
But this week we again enjoyed the power and potency of Asylum Affair with Stacey Cronin on lead vocals as they played their evocative power-ballads to an eager crowd at Staines pre-eminent music venue, the Riverside Club.
The line-up included John Lawrence (guitar) Gar Lando (drums) Colin Payne (bass guitar) and “the claw” aka Mark ‘Wilko’ Wilkinson who recently “broke his arm” so couldn’t provide us with any sax on the evening but nevertheless still wizzed the keyboards.
The eighties make you feel nostalgic just thinking about them — and the charm of songs from that era live on in our hearts. Who does not love Belinda Carlisle, Whitesnake, Foreigner and The Bangles?
So Stacey sings lusty songs about breaking up and/or uncontrollable longing and all her hearty canzones are accompanied by sensitive organ ripples, flexible bass waves and foamy ridges of guitar.
Some songs have been removed from the set-list since the last time we saw the band play in Staines…
However many of our favorites, such as “Love Is a Battlefield” (Holly Knight with Mike Chapman and made famous by Pat Benatar) have survived the cull and demonstrate the extraordinary power and finesse of Stacey. She has a distinctively soft, warm and raspy voice of sandalwood & bourbon whiskey.
A new number is “Stop!” the Sam Brown song (Brown, Sutton, and Brody 1988) brought with it with layers of sentiment. This was overwrought, almost highly-strung — and had a sense of neurosis surrounding it. The performance at Staines was so frenzied and nuanced that it left Stacey exhausted. She collapsed in a corner to recover while the band played a musical number.
Their old bossa nova piece “Parisienne Walkways” has been replaced with another number that allows the band to show off their expertise and effectiveness. It’s been traded for the funkier “Let’s Dance” (Bowie, 1983) with John pulling-off the Stevie Ray Vaughan solo at the end with flair and confidence.
Soon after “Alone” – the ‘Heart’ chart hit – written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly – Stacey announced that “We’ll play the ‘other’ Heart song too…” — thus neatly summarizing the Wilson sisters career.
So the band lunged into the next head rush song with enthusiasm. We were reminded of the low tones of Grace Slick (perhaps not surprising, since the Starship’s trooper was known for contributing to Heart’s recordings) and also the flavor of Steve Nicks
“Never Tear Us Apart” (INXS 1988) was another superlative addition to the repertoire, with drama and passion in each corner and layer-upon-layer of ritzy synth.
Perhaps most enjoyed were the Fleetwood Mac songs, and especially “The Chain” from Rumours (1977) with its well-known instrumental section associated with Formula One. And “Rhiannon” a first-half closer — taken from the predecessor album, Fleetwood Mac (1975.)
“Purple Rain” (Prince, 1984) in the second half – also gave room for John’s extended solo.
And this time the ‘Giant of the Bass’ Colin stayed in his seat (he’s still recovering from a medical procedure, we wish him a full recovery) but managed to provide undoubted fervour and gusto to the rhythms along with the über-talented Gar Lando on drums.
This was a dazzling and magnificent concert with Stacey as radiant and charming as always and the band playing at its very best.
Intoxication and rhapsody in every heartbeat.