The Trades Club - Hebden Bridge

Saturday 11 December 2004

Martin and GeorgeIt's just over 6 months since the Man band were last in Hebden Bridge, so it was a bit of a surprise to see them back here so soon. Maybe it's a warmup for the Patti Christmas show. Or maybe some sort of attempt to banish the memory of the disappointing show here last time. Whatever. They were welcome whatever the reason.

The set has been shuffled around in the intervening months, and C'mon is back in pole position. The band were straight into the groove, and seemed determined to give a good performance. The intro was excellent, with Micky's soloing very good very soon - he hit his stride early. This song is sometimes a bit of a warmup, but not this time. An exceptional start.

GarethVisionaries was, as usual, tight and a lot of fun. During Mad on Her, it struck me that the sound was pretty good, so much so that it seemed that George's Gibson was lacking it's usual rough edges, even on his solo. Nothing wrong with that though. Hangin' On, as I've said before, is a bit bland for my tastes, but Micky's solos were worthwhile, and he's still taking both of them.

It was evident on Heaven and Hell that the band were really enjoying themselves. It's a terrific song and is in the set on merit, but is still being tweaked here and there so that it sounds just right. The only bit that sounded slightly out of place was George's solo at the end.

As ever, the band are perfectionists, and requested changes to the sound at this point. "We're right on the edge, db-wise", Martin observed.

the Man bandWe were then honoured to witness the live performance of a new Man song. This doesn't happen too often. Provisionally titled All Alone, based on a riff by Bob, and sung by George. It has a simple, insistent beat, and shows great promise. It's encouraging to see the creative juices are flowing again.

A break in the proceedings next, as the winner of the competition to name Micky's part time band (the Valves) was presented with his prize - Glenn Hughes' guitar strap.

MartinOnce they resumed, Kangaroo was loose and performed with plenty of swing, while Wings was solid as ever. By the time Drivin' Around got in gear, there were several dancers on the floor. It almost looked like Top of the Pops. (Whatever happened to that?) It's another recent addition to the live repertoire, and as a whole, it wasn't quite there tonight. Micky's guitar was out of tune during his early solo, and during the later twin guitar attack, it sound like father and son were trying to go in different directions. I still reckon it's a song that should be retained in the set, and I'm sure it will be honed to perfection in time. I might be wrong, but it may be that the presentation caused a slight loss of momentum.

Romaine slowed down the pace, but it was taken up again in MACBFGU. There were further subtle changes here, with Micky adding harmonics on the intro, and George contributing a noodling solo towards the end, which brought a broad smile from his father.

After the briefest of breaks, the band returned for Bananas. The intro was extended as George's first choice of guitar proved to be not up to the task. Still, once they got underway, it was a fine performance.

So, a much better performance than their last visit here. Bob was as forceful as usual, driving from the rear, and Gareth's contributions were faultless. As ever, established songs are being remoulded, and there was that rarity, a brand new song. There was a lot to like. If the band had been seeking to erase a few bad memories, it was very much mission accomplished.


There are pics from this gig in the Gallery.

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