British Lion, Norwich Waterfront

What Steve Harris does on his busman’s holidays

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Steve Harris returns to prove there’s more to him than metal epics.

His love of proggies Jethro Tull and PFM is well known, but he cut his teeth being just as big a fan of UFO and Thin Lizzy, so here attempts to show it.

You said “attempts” – that doesn’t suggest a 100 per cent pass rate…

Er, no. ’Arry’s got a very fine singer in Richie Taylor and the band – guitarists David Hawkins (tall, blond, stage right) and Grahame Leslie (tall, beanie’d, stage left) plus drummer Simon Dawson – are as tight as his West Ham United sweatbands… but the songs don’t always hit the spot.

Come on then Smart Alec, why do you think that is?

It’s the unusual mixture or earnest AOR-style lyricism with full-on twin-guitar hard rocking. The UFO/Lizzy template (particularly apparent, on say, These Are The Hands or the dual guitar harmonies in The Chosen Ones) is a supersmart place to begin… but both those bands had big change-of-pace songs and the occasional burst of keyboards – while British Lion have neither.

Lots of singalongs, though?!

Oh yes! You can take the man out of Maiden, but you can’t take Maiden out of the man. So a room full of arms aloft and footie-style “Woah-oh-oh!”s is a box well and truly ticked.

So that must mean the songs do have melody?

Undoubtedly. But their cover of Trevor Rabin’s punky-sounding Do You Do Ya Want Me just ahead of set closer Judas, and the first encore thrill of UFO’s Let It Roll linger longer in the memory than some of the original material.

Hold on – didn’t they do those two covers last time out?

Sure… Just days after completion of the Maiden England tour at Sonisphere, there has clearly been no time to work up a brand new Lion show – so they re-tread the first tour’s setlist. Fair play: no complaints. And there’s a bonus tonight because the band, mostly from the Norwich area, are stoked by some rowdy local support and deliver that list with impressive gusto. That means they once again open with the first three on the album – This Is My God, Lost Worlds and Karma Killer – and we also hear again six of the other seven (last number The Lesson is the one that doesn’t make the cut), plus four as yet unreleased. Of these, the pairing of Guineas And Crowns and Last Chance are the most impressive – even when bookended by album standouts These Are The Hands and Us Against The World.

In a nutshell?

A high-energy romp from start to finish – 80 minutes – but the set could benefit with something like UFO’s Love To Love or Lizzy’s Still In Love With You as a focal point to give it a little more light and shade.

Neil Jeffries

Freelance contributor to Classic Rock and several of its offshoots since 2006. In the 1980s he began a 15-year spell working for Kerrang! intially as a cub reviewer and later as Geoff Barton’s deputy and then pouring precious metal into test tubes as editor of its Special Projects division. Has spent quality time with Robert Plant, Keith Richards, Ritchie Blackmore, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore – and also spent time in a maximum security prison alongside Love/Hate. Loves Rush, Aerosmith and beer. Will work for food.