The Trades Club - Hebden Bridge

Saturday 8 May 2004

Gareth and MickyPreviously, 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".

MartinThere 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...

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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