The New Roscoe - Leeds

Thursday 8 October 2009

JamesA few days on from the Hebden Bridge gig, and the band are back at the New Roscoe in the centre of Leeds. As well as the obvious lineup changes compared to last time here, (and look at those set list changes!), there was no embargo on flash photography.

The Price is a good opener, the playing is solid throughout, and it gives everyone a chance to sort the vocal harmonies - something that seems much more important to this incarnation of the band. Josh took up a Strat for Mad on Her, though spent most of the first verse tuning it... this did contribute to a much meatier sound than at Hebden Bridge, but James' crybaby solo still stood out.

Martin then complained about the difficulties of finding their way through the centre of Leeds to get to the venue, and went on the bemoan how the Swansea bendy buses can't go all the way though to Mumbles because there is nowhere to turn round.

Phil was the star of this version of C'mon, a fine piano interlude morphing into some inspired synthesiser, and was well backed up by the rest of the band; the newcomers seem to have taken to the piece very easily. Josh's newer song Speak continues to feature languid guitar lines from James, while in Russian Roulette it's Josh's own subtle guitar playing which is critical to the piece.

James attacked Spunk Rock with commendable gusto, and we were treated to a different, but equally impressive, version to the one given a few days previously. Phil took full advantage of the space given to his playing, James provided an excellent solo, and finally Josh teased the main riff and took it off into new places of his own: this was the best pure guitar playing I've ever heard from Josh, he managed to leave his own imprint on it while remaining totally sympathetic to the original song. Very good indeed.

The laid back Dream Away might have suffered in comparison, but it's more a case of it being a very different type of song. Martin had been uncharacteristically quiet at Hebden Bridge, but was more chatty tonight - so we next got his thoughts on school teachers and poetry. Josh's vocals on Steal the World were a bit low in the mix, which was surprising given that the sound overall was excellent.

During Man with X-Ray Eyes, Josh demonstrated a talent at which Deke previously excelled - he knows when to keep quiet, that there are times when less is more, and that he can make a difference just by leaving space for Phil's floral piano fills.

The main set came to an end with Rene firmly in the driving seat for MACBFGU - it's admirable how he generates so much with such a minimal kit. James knocked off another good solo, and the whole piece went down well with the crowd.

The pair of encores were equally well received, and it brought out a couple of dancers again; Bananas seems to work so much better with an organ behind it, dominating an almost pastoral middle section; and the current Conflict of Interest, with Rene's drums and Phil's synth, has a very modern, funky feel to it.

What I enjoyed most about this performance was not so much the overall quality, as how it differed from the show of just a few nights previous: they aren't prepared to settle for the tried and trusted, but are still reshaping and experimenting. And that is just how the Manband should be.

There are a few pics from this gig in the Gallery.

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