Municipal Hall - Colne

Sunday 1 November 1998

TicketI suppose it was pretty lucky really, that Man should be playing two gigs within an hour or so's drive on consecutive nights, and over a weekend at that. However, it has been suggested that I'm never truly happy unless I've got something to moan about, so forgive me if much of this review seems to concern itself with the venue rather than the performance.

If you squint hard enough at the ticket, you just might be able to make out that it says on it Main Hall. I understand that this refers to a decent enough concert hall at these premises where other rock artists (Nils Lofgren for one, I have been reliably informed by Robert Woolfe) have performed in the past. When we entered the premises on this Sunday evening, however, we discovered that the Man band's equipment had been set up in the bar. Not the biggest of bars, either. It was already as comfortably full as you would like a bar that size to be, and a good number of punters arrived after we did. To describe the venue as intimate would be over generous. To be fair, I can only assume this was down to a lack of advance ticket sales, but even so, with a hall in the same building standing empty, it seemed bizarre to have a four piece band playing on a dias more suited to a folksinger. Had Phil been with the band, I'm sure there would have been no space to accommodate him and his keyboards. Such are the experiences of the Man band on tour.

Anyway, Man took to the stage (I use the term loosely) and all credit to them, they turned in another sizzling performance that was hard to credit, given the circumstances. Martin remarked that the setting was "nice" compared to Manchester, but beyond that, the boys put their initial bemusement aside and got on with the business in hand. The set was the same as the previous night in Manchester, with just a slight change to the running order; 7171-551 has previously been used as an opener, so it was no surprise it was so used tonight. It would certainly have grabbed the attention on any Man fan unaware of the bunch of changes to come. I have always thought of Ride And The View as a curious choice of opener : and even now, having C'mon bumped down to second place seems to be some minor affront against nature. Still, the audience was hugely appreciative for the entire night, and I welcome any change as a sign of continued development. In fact, I think thre was quite a bit of experimentation going on overall - Micky threw in some licks on C'Mon which weren't there the previous night, and which I had never heard before. Mr. Jones simply never ceases to amaze.

Another thing I hadn't noticed before was Bob Richards adding backing vocals on Wings Of Mercury, but don't expect to see a solo singing spot from him any time soon. (Hands up everyone who saw Pugwash do Burn My Working Clothes live). Actually Bob more than anyone else seemed to relish the cramped stage, even having to clamber over cabinets to get to his drum stool. Deke alleged more than once that there had been a lack of pharmaceutical intake that evening, but having seen Martin stick his head round the door prior to the encore, I have my doubts.

So setting apart, another fine Man gig. Actually, though it was a tight fit for band and crowd, the positive thing is that, yes, it was intimate, and probably the closest you could get to having Man perform in your own front room.

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