Grand Slam Week: Soho Wheel Of Fortune Album Release Party

Whilst an unseasonably drab, wet and cold June meanders its way to July and hopefully sunnier weather, there’s an unmistakable buzz at the Karma Sanctum Hotel deep in the heart of Soho as the Grand Slam album release party for Wheel Of Fortune starts to get in full swing.

Drinks flowed as easily as the conversations between friends and industry professionals, the atmosphere relaxed and yet electric as various Grand Slam videos played on the screens around the room.

The first order of the evening was to unveil a scorching new take on the traditional Irish folk classic Whisky In The Jar, the accompanying footage shot showing the band in the studio as they tore up the Thin Lizzy breakthrough hit. This was an evening for live music, too, though the conspicuously arranged collection of instruments arranged at one side of the room promised much. 

Playing some hastily arranged, stripped back and earthy versions of Pirate Song, Feeling Is Strong (Jo’s Song) and Sisters Of Mercy, the pedigree and quality of the various elements on 2024 Grand Slam shone brightly, the songs breathing nicely shorn of their studio polish.

Whilst it was the latter Grand Slam standard that had the selected audience singing the loudest, the two new numbers certainly impressed as they brought a sense of rollicking fun and deep soul, respectively, making the chance to see these songs performed up close a visceral experience.

Refreshingly devoid of any big rock star egos and sense of look but don’t touch, the direct and honest performance bristled with a charismatic shine that set hearts alight. The sense of being in the presence of mates, albeit charismatic ones, was a heady and purely pleasurable one. This was truly what rock ‘n’ roll was about.

Grand Slam – Wheel of Fortune album release party - Karma Sanctum Hotel, Soho - Photo: Luca Viola
Grand Slam – Wheel of Fortune album release party – Karma Sanctum Hotel, Soho – Photo: Luca Viola

Following this, an informal Q&A session brought forth some nuggets that revealed the longstanding links between band members and the music they played, the sense that this was a gang mentality that has certainly borne fruit.

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Acting as Head Boy, Laurence Archer took the bulk of the questions, the band his baby and passion project, the softly spoken guitarist measured yet heartfelt in his answers. Vocalist Mike Dyer tells of meeting Phil Lynott and Scott Gorham as a “spotty fifteen-year-old”, then working with the Californian some years later and the feeling that things have come full circle now continuing the legacy with Grand Slam. 

Grand Slam – Wheel of Fortune album release party - Karma Sanctum Hotel, Soho - Photo: Luca Viola
Grand Slam – Wheel of Fortune album release party – Karma Sanctum Hotel, Soho – Photo: Luca Viola

It’s the stuff of dreams, and with the long-lasting friendship between Archer and ace secret weapon bass player Rocky Newton rekindled and the wonderfully individual drums of Benjy Reid, the band balances fire and experience to produce something that’s at once very much in the classic rock but still sounds fresh and vital.

There’s a pleasingly real feel to all of this that is genuinely organic, and it all seems so natural while firmly keeping the focus on the music.

With Wheel Of Fortune containing some of the best work that Archer has written and the lyrics by Dyer adding their own distinct flavours, it is great to report that the band are well and truly back.

With the musicians catching up with old friends and making some new ones, the time slowly drifting into the next day as laughter rang in ears, tales were told and songs filled hearts.

A perfect evening and a night to remember for a very long time.

Grand Slam, Wheel Of Fortune, is out now via Silver Lining Music. For more details, visit https://lnk.to/GrandSlamWheelOfFortune.

Sleeve Notes

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