Kee Marcello – Robin 2, Bilston, October 2018
After a dizzy drive to Bilston mid afternoon to avoid the worst of the traffic, a three hour trip to cover 48 miles seemed like an eternity. Start stop traffic is always a pain so getting parked up and on my way to meet Kee’s epic drummer, Tim Brown was a relief. Three years almost to the day, I travelled with Tim to see the amazing Kee Marcello play to an almost empty Leeds University Student Union. Tonight was to be a bit different.
After watching the sound check, getting a greeting from the Kee himself, he’d remembered me from the Leeds gig, this went down well as I introduced him to fellow photographer and friend John, the Robin 2 House tog!
First up we had Iconic Eye, sadly I knew nothing of this five piece but subsequent research see’s that they are no stranger to gigging in the local area. Iconic Eye are a female fronted (Jane Gould) AOR band from Wolverhampton. Winners of the Firebrand 2014 Band of the Year award it was obvious why they won this coveted accolade.
Playing a short eight song set it was enough to appreciate just how good the band have become on the back of two releases. The latest ‘Into The Light’ being released in 2017. With the first seven songs of the set coming from this album. The last being the opening track from the debut album ‘Hidden In Plain Sight’ released in 2015.
Each of these songs are a perfect foil to Jane’s stunning voice. Her amazing vocal ability soothes and massages the aural senses as the rest of the band play support to her dynamic vocal prowess. Guitars are driven tastefully either side of Jane, bass dancing back and forth as tuneful song after melodic master piece ebb and flow, hidden off to one side is the beat master, Jon Cooksey, sat behind his red kit he keeps the heartbeat moving along allowing the band to entertain the gathered crowd. A great opening band.
- Am I The One
- You Make It
- Those tears
- Rain Down
- Black Country Lady
- Better Place
- Black Heart
- Now That I’ve Found Love
Kee Marcello, a Swedish Icon and former member of rock band Europe, Is known to many but sadly yet again they have failed to show themselves. Playing to a gathered crowd of about 60 Kee gave a master class in showman and musicianship. Having old friends around him, Tim Brown on drums, Ken Sandin on bass, P-O Nielsen on keyboards, the latter bringing a new dynamic to the band. Previous shows have featured a second guitarist, having P-O is genius as the new dynamic and the playing off each other brings Kee’s playing to another level.
With his trademark wonky fretted Les Paul Kee dives into Ready or Not after Tim’s drum fill intro.
Each of the songs on the setlist have a short intro by Kee.’Let the Good Times Roll follows and then it’s time for the title track from the latest album ‘Scaling Up’. Rolling from each song is some cheesy segue such as when he asks ken what happens after a rough day and he goes home to his woman, Ken replies ‘Well, she will fix me’; cue Fix Me Again from the new album, and so the scene is set.
Europe’s Girl From Lebanon sees us with a technical issue, Kee’s Marshall head has just blown so it’s all hands on deck as the head gets swapped. With none of his trademark settings dialled in Kee picks up where he left off, his guitar screaming out a rapturous sound belying the fact that the amp is straight out of the box.
A short, Tim Brown drum solo follows, played tastefully as always. Tim is an epic drummer, never overplaying but always there on the mark pulsing like an athlete’s heart beat, pumping the beat around the room for everyone to twist and curl around. Precise and tasteful he lets loose on the solo showing why this man has played with so many great musicians. With arms flailing, crossing over and more faces than you can count Tim delivers the beat for Kee to dive into Bumble Kee, Kee’s virtuoso rendition of flight of the bumble bee. Sign of the Times quickly follows after he introduces P-O, the keyboardist, to the crowd, this is then followed by Carrie, another song from Kee’s time with Europe.
Kee then starts a solo instrumental, Amazing Grace this again shows what a superb guitarist sounds like, this is rudely interrupted as the rest of the band join in and we end up with a fantastic Hendrix type jam.
Again another Europe song which we’re told has never been played live called Tower’s Calling and that’s followed by Just the Beginning and some more chat.
Kee was recently enrolled in the Swedish Music Hall Of Fame so he tells a story about his son Tim at school when one of his friends realises his dad is the Kee Marcello, a true rock star, his son replies somewhat unimpressed, you’ve not heard him eat a boiled egg!! Saying it’s hard to impress your kids, Kee declares the next song is the last of the set, Superstitious is the set closer. Kee goes over the top showing the crowd how good he is, his guitar screams as he wrings the very life out of every note, the crowd are stood open mouthed as Kee wrestles his way effortlessly through this another Europe classic. With that its over the band salute the crowd and walk off. WTF….what just happened? Oh hang on here’s P-O back at the keyboard. Pointing, knowingly at the crowd as that epic sampled intro chimes out. The crowd start bouncing, no Kee gig would be finished without him playing the song that cemented Europe in music history. Kee was drafted into the band just in time for The Final Countdown world tour. John Norum had previously decided to leave the band after the recording of this monumental album. Kee stayed with Europe helping to write the next two albums, ‘Out Of This World’ released in 1998 and ‘Prisoners in Paradise’ released in 1991.
With the crowd bouncing and singing along to The Final Countdown, the band bring the night to a close. A masterclass of Swedish guitar playing has been brought to a small collection of music aficionados stood in a small venue, on a school night, in the middle of England.
Having just witnessed one of the best guitarists in modern times playing to a small crowd he is now stood amongst them chatting, autographing tickets and posing for photographs just showing that although he may be a guitar god he is also a humble human being.
A three hour drive home was well worth the evening I’d just spent.
- Ready or Not
- Let The Good Times Rock
- Scaling Up
- More Than Meets The Eye
- Fix Me
- Don’t Miss You Much
- Girl From Lebanon
- Bumble Kee
- Sign Of The Times
- Tower’s Calling
- Just The Beginning
- The Final Countdown
Words & pictures: Manny Manson