Fibbers - York

Sunday 10 September 2000

It's been a few years since I'd previously seen the Man band at Fibbers in York; it was all as remembered - a very small stage and low ceiling making the perfomance pretty loud. I believe it's owned by the same folk who had the late lamented Duchess in Leeds, and there are photos scattered around of previous performances from there of up and coming acts such as Oasis. Whatever became of them?

We had a support band, who I first though were called Headstone, then Headstock, but are actually Headshot. Whatever the name, they were OK, pretty good for a purely local band who are well known around the pubs of York. They gave us simple straight ahead rock, well played and impressively tight and together; and best of all (unlike some other support bands) they didn't outstay their welcome or eat into precious Man time.

I was interested to see which new songs were to be aired, and as it turned out the set list was in a fluid state, and differed from the previous night's tour opener in Whitley Bay, though still boasted six contributions from the recently released Endangered Species.

"Come down the front - we've all had a wash" - Martin Ace

They were quickly out of their blocks with Conflict Of Interest, and a very good Jones solo - no warming up needed here. Victim Of Love seems to elicit mixed opinions from fans (it's my favourite from the new album), and this live version was more syncopated than the recorded version; the drumming was of truly monstrous proportions, but overall the performance was looser then I recall from April this year.

Face To Face was the third song, again from the new album - anyone who's been out of the Man loop for a few years must have been wondering what was going on. The piece has more opportunity for musical invention than the rest of the new material, so here we had a long (perhaps too long) synth solo which merged into a duet with Micky's guitar. For those unaware, the keyboards on this tour were under the control of a stand in, Gareth Thorrington, and he acquitted himself more than ably; it's obviously been a chore to familiarize himself with all the material, so as you might expect, his performance was studied rather than freeflowing, but as far as I could tell, he never put a foot wrong. By the end of the tour I'm sure he'll relax and enjoy the experience a bit more.

In fact, the keyboards really stood out in Love Isn't Love, a more raucous rendering than I expected, and this drifted seamlessly into C'mon, which featured gorgeous synth/guitar interplay, and later in the song there was ample space for echoplexed guitar and an extended organ workout. Popemobile is by no means a personal favourite, but to be fair, I am more at ease with the live version than the studio take; a shame there were some minor sound problems a this juncture.

The mainset finished with Bananas, about which everything that can be said already has been said, so the only thing I can think of saying here is that Micky Jones played his SG rather than his Strat.

There was barely any delay until the band returned for the encore for Saints And Sinners, which was my highlight of the night. Deke went out of sight behind a pillar to add his own keyboards to this song (my main memory of the band's last gig here is Deke having to lean out from behind his piano to make himself seen), and it was clear the band really enjoy playing this number live - Bob Richards especially relishes the chance to play drums which demonstrate a sound unlike standard rock fare. Romaine was the second encore, and following a bout of wrestling with some unco-operative microphone stands, was delivered with traditional aplomb.

A very good gig. I can't help remembering how a few years back I used to moan that there was too much reliance on old tried and tested material, and new songs were dropped all too quickly; the way the band seem to enjoy doing the new stuff, I suspect the selection of setlists in future years is going to become more and more difficult.

There are pics from this gig in the Gallery.

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