The Trades Club - Hebden Bridge
Saturday 8 May 2004
- Even Visionaries go Blind
- Hangin' On
- I Always Thought the Walrus was Protected
- Wings of Mercury
- Mad on Her
- Stuck behind the Popemobile
- Many are Called but Few Get up
- Spunk Rock
Previously, in the ManBand... we had bid a fond farewell to Deke at the 100 Club, and the band were ready to move on. This was at the Trades Club, a frequent stopping off point over the years. This was the case, even thought the posters still featured Mr.Leonard rather prominently. Thanks to some personal lobbying from a local photographer, Maximum Darkness was on sale at the bar, which must have helped their takings no end. As is usual, those arriving early could hear the sound check - though it was maybe more of a rehearsal, as the ending of Visionaries was run through several times.
So it should be no surprise that Visionaries was the opener. They got underway with the minimum of fuss, and the crunching riff was suitably handled by the Jones boys, and Ace (complete with fetching blue Fender bass) got straight into a groove with the vocals. it's a strange choice for an opener, but was superbly delivered. Alas, they should maybe have run through the ending one more time, since they still couldn't get it quite right. A minor hitch... Still, it didn't help that Micky had tuning problems prior to Hangin' On, but it was well performed. Mind you, it was weird seeing Micky take the solo that Deke usually handles.
Walrus saw George's first solo of the night, then another old Twang song was added to the set in Wings of Mercury, with Micky switching to SG as you would expect. Without Deke, there is an obvious need to reshuffle the set substantially, especially for the shorter songs, and this trend continued with Manillo, where Gareth's sympathetic electric piano was well to the fore.
We switched from the short stuff to C'mon next, though even this wasn't as stretched out as some versions. It started with Gareth's keys, and was joined by Micky's ethereal guitar, but it certainly was a cut down intro. It was encouraging to hear that Geoge wasn't just copying Deke's parts, but was putting his own stamp on things; less impressive was the cockup at the end of Micky's solo, where nobody quite seemed to know where things were going. Not a classic rendition by any stretch of the imagination. There were further problems in Mad on Her, what with the vocals being too low in the mix; George tried to redeem it with his solo, but at the end Micky admitted "I got a bit lost in that one".
There followed some delay as George wrestled with equipment problems, but eventually the Popemobile was driven out, with Gareth's keyboards well upfront. It was weird hering Micky take Deke's vocal lines in Romaine, but not half as weird as the intro to MACBFGU, where Micky and George seemed to be playing the intro in different keys, if not different songs. The piece did improve as they went along, but there had been a loss of momentum.
So off they went. They probably appreciated the breather, since Spunk Rock was pretty good. Jazz tinged electric piano from Gareth, George's best work of the night, and unsurprisingly, tremendous drumming from Bob Richards. Bananas to close, and that was that.
I've not gone I to much detail about the gig because it wasn't really the band at their best. There are mitigating circumstances though - with Deke's departure just three weeks past, rehearsal time must have been minimal. And since there is no immediate prospect of an extensive tour, it must have tricky getting motivated to revamp the set.
Still, a few observations...
- For a couple of years or so, George has been deputising for Micky. It's not surprising that they have similar styles, so that was a very good fit. Micky and Deke complemented each other, so did George and Deke. But now George is filling the space previously occupied by Deke, and though it was just one gig, it may be that he doesn't fit as well here. Father and son's styles are too similar, and on this night, it didn't work - the sum of the two parts was less than it should have been.
- Last month George and Micky stood next to each other, and it was a blast. Here they were at opposite sides of the stage. It's a trivial thing, but did this get in the way of good communication?
- I hate to say it, but George was woefully underused. Very few solos, and I would have liked to have seen him get his own lead vocal, say on Asylum. George had three guitars with him, but used just the one (the Gibson) all night. For me, that reflects the way his skills were not fully exploited. He's too talented to play a purely supporting role.
- Romaine, MACBFGU, and Bananas. Not exactly ambitious. I know they had limited time to restructure the set, but even so... hell, even the CDTM segment disappeared from C'mon.
- Gareth and Bob were great. Let's not overlook that. Ace was a bit subdued though.
I don't want to complain too much, this was always going to be an awkward gig. But there's nothing that can't be fixed by a stringent review of the set and more rehearsal time. It's going to be in interesting to see how things develop from here.
There are pics from this gig in the Gallery.
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