It’s no secret …. I’ve been a huge admirer of all things Gary Hughes & Ten since 1996. In my humble opinion he is one of the finest singer/songwriters the Melodic Hard Rock/AOR genre has ever known.
That said, and putting my partisan views aside (briefly), it is common knowledge that the band have always polarized opinions – very rarely has there been middle ground.
However, since 2010, when their self-imposed 5 year hiatus came to an end, Gary Hughes and the band have taken stock, and firstly produced the impressive Stormwarning album; then, despite several forced changes in personnel, they have kept the momentum going, culminating in an unforgettable 2 hour set on the 5th November 2011 at Fleetwoodstock. That line-up now appears to be as settled as anyone could wish for.
Ten4A combination of old blood (sorry Gary, Steve and John) and new blood in the form of Darrel Treece-Birch (keys), Max Yates(drums) and the guitar revelation that is Dan Mitchell have now, through numerous well-received gigs and the very impressive 2012 album Heresy & Creed ( my album of the year, without question ), become arguably as tight-knit as any previous manifestation of Ten.
So, HRH AOR Day 2 was to become yet another benchmark for the band – could they recruit yet more admirers? It was going to be a difficult task, as previous band H.E.A.T had set a very high standard!!
As the lights dimmed, and the now familiar keyboard intro of ‘The Gates Of Jerusalem‘ filled the venue, there was an expectant hush, followed by a huge cheer as the band made their entrance.
‘Arabian Knights‘ then exploded into life with such verve and intensity, and despite Mr. Hughes slipping, stumbling and briefly falling (c’mon guys, who hasn’t at one time or another fallen foul of the dreaded ‘damp patch‘?), he didn’t miss a syllable, and the band definitely looked in the mood to deliver!!
I’m not a musician, or a sound technician … I’m just a humble fan; but if I’m being hyper-critical I personally think that if the intensity of Ten in the live arena, especially from the rhythm section of the band, was reined in just a modicum it would allow the keyboards and lead guitar to come more to the fore and thus further enhance the lush, intricate melodies of the songs. My suspicions would be that this is more of a sound tech issue, not the musicians. ‘Gunrunning‘ was up next, and was met with huge approval and vocal participation. It certainly is one of the most commercial songs ever written by Gary Hughes, and with a foot firmly planted in the 70’s Glam Rock era, it should be a permanent fixture for quite some time to come. ‘Spellbound‘ delivered its customary hammer blow, and whilst Gary, looking every inch the military General patrolled the stage, his trusty axe lieutenants: John, Steve and Dan lost themselves in riff heaven!!
Ever since Dan Mitchell debuted at Fleetwoodstock, his quality of guitar playing has been held in the highest regard, and, to see his fingers moving up and down the neck of his guitar like a spider with St Vitus dance it is a joy to behold!! But what is even more pleasing these days, is that he is no longer a static genius, but one that is relaxed, expressive, and in more ways than one, upwardly mobile.Ten7
Another Ten classic, ‘Ten Fathoms Deep‘ brought the tempo down somewhat, and allowed us to catch our breath and enjoy the stunning, audio/visual storytelling that Gary Hughes is so good at. From a personal point of view, I would have liked to have seen an acoustic version adopted here – how captivating would that have been?
The biggest problem Ten face when performing live, is which songs to include, and which songs to omit – So it was quite a surprise to me that ‘The Robe‘ was the next song, knowing what song they would be finishing with. With a 90+ minute set, there is ample time for multiple epics such as this, however, as pleased as I was to hear it (especially the spoken intro done by Gary himself) I felt that two shorter songs could have been used instead ……. again, just a selfish observation.
A similar problem, albeit a nice one, is which ballad to adopt, as each one is a timeless classic – but there is little doubt that ‘Valentine‘ is up there with the best. The main protagonists: Gary, Darrel, and a blistering, heart-wrenching solo from Dan took the song up into the sonic stratosphere ….. divine !!!
‘After The Love Has Gone‘ followed, and was received with immense warmth and appreciation for the old friend that it is. It must never be omitted!!! ‘Unbelievable‘ was, for me, the highlight of the set. Ever since I received my copy of Heresy & Creed I thought this song was good, but live it is a totally different beast – a hybrid of rock, blues and jive that injects a party atmosphere in to both audience and band alike.
The fan-favourite ‘Red‘ was the penultimate song, and was executed with customary Celtic charisma, especially by John Halliwell and Steve McKenna, who’s flowing manes were dancing manically to its beat.
All good things must come to an end, and everything that can be said about ‘Name Of The Rose‘ has already been said – It is Ten’s signature dish; it is the National Anthem of Lancashire; it encapsulates everything that is Ten: an epic soundscape, storytelling of the highest order, power, drive, melody, and more class than you could shake a stick at – THE only way to end what was another memorable display of musicianship, by a band that will forever have a place in my heart.
If you’ve never seen them ……. you simply must!!!
Gates Of Jerusalem/Arabian Knights
Ten Fathoms Deep
After The Love Has Gone
Name Of The Rose
(taken from http://www.uberrock.co.uk/gig-reviews/10-june-gigs/5116-tenserpentinewhite-widdow-pontypridd-municipal-hall-1st-june-2012.html, written by Dave Prince)
And so we come to the main event folks, the long overdue return of Ten. Having witnessed Gary Hughes and his merry men live back in '96, I was intrigued to see what the 2012 version was all about. Well not much has changed, okay the faces might have, but the music is the same as ever. Now I was never a big fan of Ten, however I love Gary's solo work and his production skills are second to none, and tonight Gary has the crowd eating out the palm of his hand from the word go.
Playing a good mix from their back catalogue and newer songs from 'Stormwarning' the band could simply do no wrong, even if their drummer bore a strange resemblance to JD & The FDCs main man Jamie Delerict, what with all his tattoos and CBGB vest. I suppose my main problem with Ten has always been that the band never look to be having fun on stage. Hell they still don't move that much, well no one apart from Bassist Steve Mckenna anyway, he was actually the most enjoyable part of the show. Still with songs such as 'After The Love Has Gone', 'Ten Fathoms Deep' and 'The Hourglass And The Landslide' you really can't go wrong on the music front.
As with all great things sadly the night has to end, but I can honestly say that no one I talked to left the venue without being blown away. Everything about this show showcases the fact that AOR is very much alive and kicking. So all that is left is for me to offer my sincerest thanks to Mike Exley for giving rock I love a very good name indeed...
(Taken from http://getreadytorock.com/reviews2012/ten_gig.htm)
In contrast, Ten were the great white hopes back in the late nineties, when almost singlehandedly their grandiose sounds flew the flag for a very underground melodic rock scene, emerging blinking from the wilderness years.
Sadly, despite headlining virtually every Gods festival, they never matched their success in Japan at home, and singer and prolific songwriter Gary Hughes gradually seemed to lose interest with touring extremely rare and albums sneaking out with little publicity.
However on the back of a partial return to form in new album Stormwarning, Gary is on the road again with trademark curls restored and with long-time lieutenants rhythm guitarist John Halliwell and bassist Steve McKenna, plus three new members, who the cramped Yardbirds stage could barely accommodate.
His baritone voice has always been an acquired taste, but perfectly suited the opener Endless Symphony, which did what it says on the tin. It was great to hear old favourites such as Spellbound, with its Still of the Night inspired riffing, the bombastic epic ten Fathoms Deep, and After the Love Has Gone, which used to fill the dance floor at Maximes melodic rock night in Wigan back in the day.
However, it was the new material that actually now sounded better live including the super smooth Hourglass and the Landslide and Book of Secrets, which rocked with a strong hook.
After an acapella intro from Gary, the Lizzy-inspired celtic feel of Red saw the band hitting their heaviest groove, before closing with the epic title track from their second, and probably definitive album, from 1996, Name of the Rose. The rapid fire two handed guitar tapping of ungainly looking new guitarist Dan Mitchell is not to my personal style, but his speed and technique on the solo was a thing to behold.
I would have appreciated a set a little longer than an hour and five minutes, but it was great to see one of my former favourite bands back in the saddle and by the time they play Firefest in the autumn, this roadwork round the UK will pay dividends.
(Taken from http://www.rock-zone.co.uk/2012/06/02/ten-serpentine-white-widdow-the-railway-28th-may-2012/)
Last up, the headline act Ten. Formed in 1994 these guys have been around the block and then some. Gary Hughes has fought against time and trends to keep the fire burning for his particular brand of AOR and this return to the touring scene has clearly been welcomed by the very many Ten fans that filled the venue. I have no idea why but for a band with the the longevity of Ten I was, before tonight, very unaware of the history – my musical radar has been switched on since the early 70s and once I discovered the joys of melodic rock in the 80s that has been my main love so this lack of awareness was a total mystery. With a set full of very grand (pomp-tastic ?) songs covering all eras from the first album to the most recent, 2011′s “Stormwarning”, the band steamrollered through their set, winning over new fans and obviously pleasing their loyal followers. Set closer, “The Name of the Rose”, summed up their epic sound – dual guitars, keyboards, bass and drums all working with Gary Hughes’ vocals.
In this time of penny pinching and austerity, this was a brilliant night out with three great band which was even more incredible when you consider that advance tickets were a measily £12.50! With bands like this, offering such amazing value in such awesome surroundings the UK music scene should be in safe hands. As a parting shot I would just like to mention the sound on the night – I have been to The Railway many times and have never heard such a flat sound and that can ONLY be down to the promoters using their own sound technician. Can I advise bands that, unless you are using your own PA, bringing your own sound technician is a waste of your money and time – if the venue has a house set-up use their engineer who will know EXACTLY how to get the best sound for you (unless you want drums to sound like Tupperware pots?).
(Taken from http://planetmosh.com/tenserpentinewhite-widdow-tour-railway-venue-bolton-28th-may-2012/)
Any doubts that some people may have had over whether Ten or Serpentine should be headlining this tour were quickly squashed as Gary Hughes took to the stage to thunderous applause, by now everybody was soaked with sweat, it was a hot in there tonight, very hot, but the crowd gave there all in welcoming Ten back to the touring circuit after being away from it for so long.
Ten opened with “Endless Symphony”, the opening song from their latest album “Stormwarning” , back in time for the next track, taken from the fourth album, the title track “Spellbound”, a quick acknowledge to the crowd, before Gary introduced the next song based loosely on the story of the Mary Celeste, ‘“Ten Fathom’s Deep”, by now the place was very hot, very sweaty and very rocking.
‘After The Love Has Gone’, taken from the very first Ten album released in 96, is a firm fan favorite and went down well as did ‘Book Of Secrets’ and ‘The Hourglass And The Landslide’ both taken from “Stormwarning”. It was obvious Ten were here to sing songs from the new album, and were not on a nostalgia trip down memory lane. With Just enough new songs to keep the setlist fresh, and just enough classics to keep the fans happy, Ten could do no wrong tonight.
Ten like to write grand songs about epic tales, so it was no surprise that ‘ The Robe’ was included in the setlist, featuring some furious drumming from Max Yates.
“Love Song”, the only ballad of Ten’s set followed, giving the band a little breather after the epic 9 minute ‘The Robe’
The classic rock sounds of ‘Red’, got the room rocking once more, with Dan Mitchell playing out of his skin on a 7 stringed guitar, and that was the end of the show, though not quite, as Ten still had one more Ace to play, and was “The Name Of The Rose”, an absolute giant of a song to bring an almost perfect evening to an end.
All three bands played flawlessly, and it would be unfair to pick out who was best on the night, for those of you who were there, then you will have your own opinions, for those of you who weren’t there, why not!
You won’t get this kind of quality live music for £12.50 again in a hurry.
Fireworks Magazine issue 49 features a review of Ten's gig at Fleetwoodstock 2011. Order your copy at http://rocktopia.co.uk/.
(taken from http://www.rafabasa.com/2006/03/atarfe-vega-rock-–-sabado-11-–-ten/)
Tenía mucha curiosidad por ver qué tal se desenvolvían Gary y sus chicos en un escenario grande y más después de ese parón en directo del que hablaba antes. Los británicos abrieron el show con el tema “Fear The Force”, como viene siendo costumbre en ellos. Lo primero que sorprendería a muchos es el nuevo look de Gary Hughes, con pelo muy corto, barba y vestido de negro de pies a cabeza. “Fear The Force” resultó una canción perfecta para abrir el show. Ya en este primer tema el grupo se mostró compacto, con un sonido muy bueno y un Gary Hughes haciendo gala de un estado de voz espléndido.
El nuevo look de Mr. Hughes no era la única novedad, ni mucho menos. Y es que TEN presentaban dos nuevos fichajes: el guitarrista Chris Francis, que ya grabó con TEN en su último álbum, “Return To Evermore”, pero que no había tocado en directo con la banda antes del Fleetwoodstock Festival, y el batería Lee Morris, procedente de la banda PARADISE LOST.
Debo decir que Chris Francis me sorprendió muy positivamente, aunque se mostró bastante tímido y estático, cogiendo más confianza a medida que avanzaba el show para moverse y ocupar un lugar preferencial en el escenario durante la ejecución de sus solos. Reemplazar a su antecesor Vinny Burns no era tarea fácil, pero resolvió la papeleta con nota. Se trata de dos estilos muy diferentes, Francis es menos explosivo que Burns, pero en contraposición es un guitarrista mucho más técnico y limpio.
También era el debut de Lee Morris con TEN en España, aunque pudimos verle recientemente en Madrid tocando con VAUGHN. Morris tuvo una actuación correcta, en la línea del resto del grupo.
Después de “Fear The Force” llegó “Spellbound”, uno de mis temas favoritos y que sonó de muerte en directo, aunque eché en falta una mayor riqueza de coros, algo que me pasó en más de una canción. Afortunadamente Gary Hughes cantó rozando la perfección, minimizando esa situación.
Tras “Spellbound” sonó “Ten Fathoms Deep” y posteriormente tres de los temas estandarte de la banda: “The Robe”, “After The Love Has Gone” y “The Name Of The Rose”. En esta ocasión, el grupo decidió no incluir intros grabadas como en otras ocasiones, lo que para mí fue un acierto. Con estos tres temas llegó el momento álgido del show de TEN. Gary Hughes, además de demostrar que es un gran cantante en su estilo lineal, se movió mucho durante todo el show, comunicándose gestual y visualmente con el público en todo momento. Hasta se permitió algunos movimientos con el pie de micro al más puro estilo Coverdale. También estuvieron bastante activos el guitarrista John Halliwell y el bajista Steve McKenna. Este último había anunciado su marcha del grupo hace unas semanas, pero seguirá tocando en directo con la banda de Gary aunque no participará en el próximo disco, que se espera para esta primavera. Respecto al teclista Paul Hodson, hizo bien su trabajo y fue el que más colaboró en los coros.
Los dos últimos temas del concierto fueron “Wildest Dreams”, otro de los que más me gustó personalmente y en el que Gary se salió sin necesitar respaldo de voces secundarias en determinados momentos de la canción, y “Red”.
Como veréis, el set list fue prácticamente el disco “Essential Rockers”.
del recopilatorio “The Essential Collection”, que salió a la venta en el mes de enero. Sólo faltaron las canciones “Apparition” y “Evermore”, ambas del álbum “Return To Evermore”. Tampoco pudimos disfrutar de ninguna balada del segundo CD del recopilatorio (“Essential Ballads”), pero no había tiempo para más. De todas maneras, TEN nos ofrecieron un muy buen concierto, demostraron que siguen a tope pese a haber estado un tiempo en el “dique seco”, y nos dejaron con ganas de volver a verlos, esperemos que en este mismo año.
Texto: Mar Tomas
2nd June 2002
Thanks to Nicky Baldrian at http://www.longislandmusicscene.com/ for the use of the review.
Thanks to Britny Alfonzetti for writing the review.
An appearance by Ten is almost a Gods tradition now, but I have to admit that they undoubtedly landed themselves with the most difficult job of the day in following Harem Scarem. It was obvious that Harem were the band most people had travelled to see and I think that due to this and the excessive heat in the venue by this time, then the crowd had thinned out somewhat. Those of us die-hards who remained were certainly not disappointed with the night’s performance.
We were greeted with the now familiar ‘March of the Argonauts’ intro and a blaze of pyrotechnics leading into ‘Fear the Force’, ok so it was very 80’s, and I think some of us in the front row feared for our eyebrows! However I think it will look fantastic on
the DVD and its nice to see a bit of spectacle in rock again as its something we don’t see enough of these days. Next up was the Whitesnake swagger of ‘Spellbound’. By now the crowd seemed to have found their second wind and lapped up the following epic, ‘The Robe’
The improvement in the new line up over the past few months was by now evident. New boy Chris Francis was looking much more relaxed and confident in himself, at last he is moving about and interacting with the rest of the band. In fact the whole band was looking like they were enjoying themselves more than I have seen them do in a long while, a bigger stage made all the difference. It was a pleasure to see the band performing rather than merely playing for us. Long may it continue.
A rousing rendition of ‘Scarlet and the Grey’ was the first up from new album ‘Far Beyond the World’ and judging from the reception it is surely destined to become a live favourite. It is surely criminal that we are unlikely to ever hear this track on the radio.
Its everything the perfect commercial track should be. The ballad 'What About Me?’ slowed the pace down and gave us a welcome breather, this is not one of my favourite Ten ballads, but live it almost brought a tear to my eye.
Dancefloor classic ‘After The Love Has Gone’ was a fitting and touching dedication to the late and sure to be very sadly missed Mike Stone. ‘Babylon’ favourite ‘The Stranger’ stepped up the pace a notch or two and saw Francis riffing like a man possessed and the entire band looking every inch rock gods. Personal ‘Babylon’ favourite ‘Black Hearted Woman’ kept up the heat and drove the front row into a frenzy. ‘We Rule The Night’ saw an appearance by the British flag and a speech about the fact ‘The Gods' is attended by fans from all over the world. Anyone who knows me can testify that this is not one of my favourite tracks but it is easy to see why it has become such an anthem judging by the smiles and enthusiastic voices singing along.
A phenomenal rendition of debut album classic ‘Stay With Me’ was greeted enthusiastically and left a lump in my throat. The rest of the set was made up of ‘Black Shadows’, the majestic ‘Wait For You’ and was closed with the thunderous climax of crowd favourite ‘Red’. We still wanted more and we weren’t disappointed the band rewarded us with the wonderful ‘Name of The Rose’.
All in all, given the difficult task the band had, I think they more than justified their inclusion on this bill and more than held their own alongside the big name acts. It was no mean achievement to rouse the weary crowd from slumber! Hopefully doubters as to the choice of Chris Francis as Vinny Burns replacement will now have been silenced and with the next album and promised January tour he will stamp his authority on the Ten sound.
(taken from www.tenofthebest.com)
(taken from www.rockfabrik-augsburg.de)
BOB CATLEY/TEN - Augsburg/Rockfabrik 06.05.01
Es gehört in good old Germany nun wahrlich nicht zum Alltagsgeschäft, dass hochkarätige Melodic Rock-Packages die heimischen Clubs beackern. Umso unverständlicher erschienen mir dann die mehr als nur enttäuschenden Besucherzahlen der aktuellen Bob Catley/Ten-Konzertrundreise. Auch in Augsburg füllten gerade mal 300 Nasen das hiesige Etablissement mehr schlecht als recht. Wo zum Geier sind die Leute, die Ten in die Charts gebracht haben? Kleben sie wirklich mit ihrem Hintern am Sofa und trauern den grandiosen Achtzigern nach? Doch eben jenige sollten sich mal fragen, wie zur Hölle soll es jemals ein Revival dieser goldenen Ära geben soll, wenn niemand zu den sowieso schon spärlichen Tourneen kommt? Kurz und gut, hier ist mein persönliches Fazit für alle Zuhausegebliebenen: a) Schande über euch! b)ihr habt was verpasst!
Überpünktlich legten Ten mit Fear The Force gleich los wie die Feuerwehr. Sofort war zu spüren, wie heiß die Jungs auf ihre ersten wirklichen Deutschland-Gigs waren. Ihre Spielfreude und enorme Power zog das Publikum von Beginn an in ihren Bann. Und es war laut, sehr laut sogar, leider war der Sound dabei nicht unbedingt berauschend - aber egal! Weiter ging’s mit The Robe, Bright On The Blade und Spellbound - der Sound wurde besser, aber direkt proportional wuchs das Erstaunen über die Heavyness des Programms. Endlich nahm man mit dem überraschend eingestreuten We Rule The Night den Fuß etwas vom Gaspedal und die Meute vor der Bühne durfte sich erfolgreicher als befürchtet als Chorsänger versuchen. Gary Hughes steigerte sich im Laufe des weiteren Sets immer mehr in seiner Rolle als Frontmann, suchte permanent den Kontakt zum Publikum und animierte seine Mitstreiter unaufhörlich Topleistungen zu bringen. Sehr starke Vorstellung der Briten, die mit Stay With Me vorerst mal und viel zu früh beendet wurde. Als Zugabe kam dann noch The Name Of The Rose, bei welcher sich die Herren Musiker mit peinlich schlechten Sonnenbrillen präsentierten, um den Song spontan den Beach Boys zu widmen. Coole Aktion und vielumjubeltes Finale einer grandiosen Show!
Als nach einer kurzen Umbaupause dann Bob Catley die Bühne der Rockfabrik enterte, war Partytime angesagt! Der gute Bob sah aus wie das blühende Leben (im Gegensatz zum letztjährigen „Gods of AOR“-Fesival in Wigan, wo er eher einem Zombie glich...) und sang wie ein junger Gott. Egal ob neue Songs wie Return Of The Mountain King oder Stormcrow & Pilgrim vom aktuellen Middle Earth-Album, seine älteren kleinen Solohits Dreams und Scream oder die alten Magnum-Klassiker Vigilante und On A Storyteller’s Night, das Publikum fraß ihm bedingungslos aus der Hand und sorgte trotz der spärlichen Kulisse für einen außerordentlich hohen Lärmpegel. Erwähnenswert war auch der absolut brilliante Sound, sowie natürlich Catley’s Begleitband, die sich gehörig den Arsch aufriss und eine mehr als ansehnliche Show bot. Nach circa 70 Minuten war der reguläre Part der Veranstaltung mit Fear Of The Dark beendet, bevor The Fellowship und Days Of No Trust endgültig die Lichter ausgehen ließ und alle Leute glücklich und zufrieden auf den Heimweg schickte. Peter Schwass
March Of The Argonauts (Intro)
Fear The Force
Bright On The Blade
We Rule The Night
After The Love Has Gone
Black Hearted Woman
Stay With Me
The Name Of The Rose
Setlist Bob Catley:
Return Of The Mountain King
Stormcrow & Pilgrim
Start Talking Love
On A Storyteller’s Night
Fear Of The Dark
Days Of No Trust