GIG: Argent
DATE: Saturday 4th February 2012
VENUE: O2 Academy (Shepherds Bush Empire), Shepherds Bush Green, London
COST£25.00 plus the usual extortionate booking fees!
OUR VERDICT: Heads Held High

Although it was snowing when we headed out to London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, we were determined not to miss this gig – the last night of a short, six date UK tour with the original members, Rod Argent (vocals and keyboards/organ), Russ Ballard (vocals & guitar), Bob Henrit (drums) and Jim Rodford (bass).

The flakes had trebled in size and were coming down steadily by the time we reached Shepherds Bush Green. We could see the queue outside the Empire (or O2 Academy as it is now called!!!) as we did a circuit of the green in order to find a suitable side road to leave the car.

The show was scheduled to kick off at 8pm, with tonight’s support act, Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, who gave us the best part of an hour filled with their melodic rock. Their set had a blend of harmonies with loads of guitar and Danny Wilson’s nimble finger work on his lovely PRS really shone through tonight (he was wasted in Showaddywaddy!).

Argent took to the stage right on time, and hearing the opening to “The Coming of Kohoutek” we settled in for a great night of rock. The set was the same as that just over a year ago when we saw this superb band in the Forum in Kentish Town (refer to our blog from Dec 2010).

The opener was just a smidgen of the song however, a bit of a teaser, before the band went into “It’s Only Money Parts 1 & 2” with Russ Ballard on fine form on guitar and vocals. Minty was happy as our seats were front row, right in front of Russ so she could sit and gawp! J

Rod Argent
Rod Argent then took the lead vocal on “Keep On Rolling” and “Rejoice” and then there was a fab primal drum beat from Bob Henrit for “Dance Of Ages” which included Rod performing his usual magic on his Hammond and Kurzweil (as he did throughout the whole gig).

“Be Free” swiftly followed and then “Sweet Mary” with Rod on lead vocal and some nifty guitar work from Russ included.

“Liar” sounded brilliant and then Russ introduced his favourite song that Rod had written at the tender age of just seventeen – “She’s Not There”, on which Rod played a sweet piano solo for the introduction.

Next up, Russ went to the other side of the stage and took up position by the keyboards to melt our ears with “I Don’t Believe In Miracles” which just gave goosebumps all over it was that good.

Russ Ballard sings "I Don't Believe In Miracles"

“Since You’ve Been Gone” was a particular favourite of Minty’s, when it was a hit by Rainbow. Hearing Russ sing it, is nothing short of brilliant and his guitar intro was awesome.

The night ended with two songs that perhaps Argent are really best known for, “Hold your Head Up” which Rod and Jim sometimes features in their shows with the Zombies, and then “God Gave Rock & Roll To You”.
A great way to end the night – on a total high.

Russ came to the front of the stage to shake hands with some of the audience who were still giving a standing ovation, which included Brian. Russ recognised him, and had a quick word with him which really made The Beeb’s night.

Russ Ballard recognises The Beeb

There was no hanging around afterwards, as the snow had continued to fall during the show which left a treacherous journey home…. taking two and a half hours to cover the 19 mile distance!

The venue had not been a sell-out (indeed we learned the Cardiff show from a couple of nights before had been cancelled), and with the hazardous weather, we suspect some ticket holders had not made the journey into London but those who did seemed to enjoy themselves. We certainly did.