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.
(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.