The Kite Club at The Station - Blackpool

Friday 7 February 2003

The Man bandFor the third consecutive winter, the Man band came to Blackpool to present their own version of West Coast psychedelia. The weather did not provide the glorious blue skies of 2002 or 2001, but at least the rain held off. So, with Micky Jones still recuperating back in South Wales, son George continues to do an admirable job stepping into his father's shoes. And so well is he doing that once Jones senior does return, we will be sad to see George go.

But that's for the future. Back in the present, there was some concern about the state of the Station: it appeared to be a building site - windows boarded up, hard hats wandering in and out and plenty of dust and rubble. But fear not - the Kite Club is downstairs and is unaffected by the reconstruction. It's just a shame the bar hadn't been renovated; the only other change was a red backdrop over the mirror at the back of the stage.

The band appeared just on 9pm, and opened with Ride. It was the shorter style intro, but Deke still gave the SG a good thrashing; such a good thrashing in fact, that he broke a string, much the the amusement of everybody else, both on and off stage. The song was also graced by a fine Hammond solo from Gareth. As mentioned previously, the layout of the stage at the Kite Club prevents Gareth from being from being in full view as he is tucked behing some woodwork. Visually you might not think he was with the band, but musically he is a great fit.

GarethLove isn't Love came up next, and a top notch performance it was. We were then trated to one of Martin Ace's mini lectures, this time with politics as the subject. If any of Dubya's agents were in the audience, I fear Martin will now be judged as being part of the axis of evil. But anyone who heard Walrus would surely have thought again and pronounced him a world statesman. Maybe it's time the UN made him a roving ambassador. Anyway, it also featured a great solo from George.

The intro to Conflict of Interest is regularly reshaped, and this time it was mainly taken by Gareth's Moog, with George's guitar providing great backup, and later in the song another terrific solo, this one heavy on the wahwah. There was a really thunderous Popemobile, maybe heavier than usual on the piano, and evidence that the band were giving it their all came as Bob Richards broke a drumstick. Anything Deke can do...

7171 was tight and shorter than some versions, but had the highlight of another great organ solo from Gareth. The focus on brevity contined with Asylum, where George's lead vocal really does sound spookily like his father, and a terrific full speed ahead Daughter of the Fireplace, which really has become a regular set highlight. I thought George's solo to be a bit low in the mix, but that's just a minor quibble.

And with that, they were off. Hang on, something's wrong here. It's barely 10:15... It occured to me that the set so far was based around the shorter pieces, and there had been a minimum of the usual extended soloing. Hmm. I didn't have time to think further about this, as George and Bob reappeared to perform their loose, spacey duet, heavy on the wahwah, which has become the current incarnartion of the Man band's intro to Spunk Rock. Deke, Gareth and Martin joined in eventually, and we got a really seventies style work out, with Gareth's synth solo very much setting the tone. Romain followed, with a few new twists introduced by George, and they were off again.

G'night!Yes, that was more like it. But wait... it's still only 10:45... those who know the Kite Club will be aware that at 11pm, the live band has to call it a night since the place turns into a budget night club (no trainers!) as the table and chairs are cleared from the small dancefloor, and a whole new clientele are welcomed. Gig goers are inevitably annoyed about this, but I suppose the place has its regulars to keep happy. But anyway, the point being, there was still a few precious minutes left. So... another encore! And the band were clearly up for it, a heavily pysch intro to C'mon, and Bob Richards, who as usual was flawless all night seemed to crank ther energy level up another notch.

It was overall a bit strange. Maybe the band, well aware of the time contraints, started in good time and focussed on the shorter songs in an effort not to overrun, but overdid it and came up short. Lucky us, if that were the cause of the extra encore! Then again, maybe it just went that way.

Whatever... another Kite Club gig, another triumph.


There are pics from this gig in the Gallery.

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