Keith St John was last here with Doug Aldrich for their Burning Rain acoustic tour in 2019 and, perhaps inspired by that experience, brought along his mate Jack Frost for an evening of culture at The Dev.
Keith St John
The Dev, Camden – 9 October 2023
Words and Photography: Steve Ritchie
Keith is seen as a ‘go to’ singer, having performed with bands such as Lynch Mob, LA Guns, Quiet Riot, and Kingdom Come and on tonight’s evidence, it is easy to see why. The man has an epic set of pipes.
Of course, St John is best known for his time working with Ronnie Montrose from 1998 in the live arena, including as guests at several Sammy Hagar concerts in the summers of 2004 and 2005. Montrose, the band, were dubbed America’s answer to Led Zeppelin. An album written and recorded with Ronnie in 2006 has never been released.
So, with a wealth of experience, some great stories to tell, and big smiles, Keith and Jack brought their acoustic guitars to Camden, and Rain Is Burning (the tour name) thoroughly entertained the Monday-night music lovers.
Despite the wobbly sound check, which was no fault of the Americans, the Neck Oil was flowing in the area of the bar I was sitting, and the opening salvo of Rock The Nation (Montrose) and My Lust Your Fate (Burning Rain) ha the punters enthralled.
Keith’s vocal style is awesome, quite sultry in places, especially in My Lust Your Fate. He holds a solid rhythm that allows Jack, with great harmony vocal and acoustic guitar shredding, to shine, too.
Led Zeppelin’s Good Times Bad Times is awesome and has the crowd joining in, to smiles from the Americans, while Dokken’s River Of Love nicely upped the pace.
This was fun. With the usual rite of passage, running to and from the photo pit and watching the bands from the back of a hall, this was a welcome distraction from the norm. Sat at a table with my Neck Oil in front of me, I was all smiles as the pair shared smiles between them and interacted with the crowd. Sometimes, it’s just nice to sit and watch something more stripped back.
Keith spoke fondly of the talents of Doug Aldrich as an intro to the Burning Rain song Shelter. “Don’t point that gun at my head,” they sang, with Jack again shining on backing vocals. There was a nice English rhythm to this song that the boys brought with a cool ’70s vibe to the chorus. This is a gem of an acoustic version.
Love Ain’t No Stranger had the biggest crowd participation of the evening, the pairing of St John/Frost and The Dev punters putting the Coverdale/Vandenberg/Japan Audience to shame. Tonight’s Starkers In Camden highlight had Keith pulling some wonderful grimaces in the closing solo, while Keith’s closing notes were very cool. Emotional.
Keith joined in the fun, talking about touring the UK with Savatage, supporting Judas Priest and how he loves it over here. Our football/soccer fans get a thumbs up too.
Keith spoke about moving to LA, and how meeting and keeping in touch with James Kottak led to him joining Kingdom Come. The band’s first album was, for me, epic and still gets a play today. They were vilified in the press who called them Zeppelin ripoffs, with even Gary Moore writing a song, Led Clones, with Ozzy covering vocals.
The lack of a tambourine is a problem, and no one else there tonight thought to bring one. Get It On is the inevitable track to follow, a higher pitch than many punters can manage, but The Rock Den’s Dean Archer is in good voice.
With a smile, Get It On segues into Black Dog, then Whole Lotta Love, before returning to the KC song for some finale. With Keith’s voice, it is no wonder Kingdom Come chose him to front their band.
Jack gets a break as Myke Gray joins for some songs, one of which has Keith hastily googling lyrics. Tower Of Strength is found, and Keith aces it.
The evening builds to its climax, and another Kingdom Come classic [damn those notes] leads into the almost final singalong of You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Some heckling from the audience leads to an impromptu Whitesnake closure, and we are done.
Keith St John and Jack Frost provided fun on a Monday night in Camden. Granted, Montrose didn’t tour over here much, so maybe not so many of us are as familiar with their work as they are in the US, but that was not a problem tonight.
A bit of culture on a Monday night in Camden was a very welcome start to the week.
You can catch Keith and Jack tonight at The Station in Cannock and tomorrow night at The Black Prince in Northampton.