The name Damon Johnson is famous for his works as a guitarist in bands such as Brother Cane, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper, and Black Star Riders. On the 6th August 2019, the legend was back in town for his first ever UK solo show in support of the new album “Memoirs of an Uprising” at the O2 Academy Islington. With Miguel Montalban & The Southern Vultures and Eddie Monroe providing support it’s bound to be an unforgettable evening of pure rock and screaming solos.
Tonight’s opener, the flamboyant Eddie Monroe started off slow, but soon had the crowd joining in on the fun mid-set. The highlight for me was the incredible cover of my favourite Led Zeppelin track “Immigrant Song” as Eddie screamed just like Robert Plant. By the time Eddie and his band of musicians reached the end of their short set the venue was quite full and that’s always great to see fans arriving early to catch the supporting act. They were well received by the crowd and left the stage to a round of applause.
The audience cheered as Miguel Montalban & The Southern Vultures hit the stage. The funky rock set featuring superb, captivating solos and exceptional vocals by Miguel Montalban set the pace for the night. He didn’t just play his guitar, he and the band put on a triumphant performance and kept the audience on their toes. Montalban has this unexplainable ability enrapture the crowd with his impeccable guitar skills, he can easily fit into a G3 tour for a massive jam. The striking performance was certainly a stand-out set for me and the crowd cheering came naturally. This band constantly delivered their moving sound in an unashamedly short set with perfection and the momentum of their performance only seemed to build in stature.
The crowd roared as an overwhelming presence filled the venue when Damon Johnson appeared on stage followed by the band and they dived into “Breadmaker” (Brother Cane) and ploughed through “The Killer Instinct” which happened to be the first of the many mass sing-alongs of the night. Stepping out of the shadow of Black Star Riders and Thin Lizzy we had the chance to witness DJ in his element belting out hits from his back catalogue, which appealed to old and new fans alike with the live debut of ”Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed.”
DJ is no stranger to the stage as the frontman was all smiles as he stood proud and confident behind the mic. Fans are familiar with his rock-solid guitar playing skills, but his vocals really need to be commended as his delivery was flawless. The sensational performance of “Pontiac” saw DJ on stage completely solo, and the epic guitar soloing during “20/20 Faith” was euphoric! Not forgetting new material “Shivering Shivering” featuring unforgettable riffs and my favourite track off of the new record “Dallas Coulda Been a Beatdown” with its catchy chorus. This show would not be what it was without the fantastic rhythm section, drummer Jack Taylor and Alex Phillips on bass that put on a blinder of a show. The set wouldn’t be complete without “Boys are Back In Town” which proved to be a fan favourite as they erupted with excitement.
The unscripted show saw Damon speak openly from the heart and paid tribute to the late and greatest legend Phil Lynott dedicating “Borderline.” Humble in nature, Damon showed immense appreciation for the crowd as he proclaimed “Love you so much London. Thank you!” throughout the set. His magnetic stage presence was undeniable and we just love him!
Overall, Damon Johnson delivered an electrifying show perfectly executed with a fine blend of catchy riffs, hair-raising solos, and hard-hitting vocals. It’s essential you catch him in a city near you.
Review by Nadira Cee | Photos by Fernando Bonenfant