The Witchwood, Ashton-under-Lyne

14 September 1994

If the listing from the back of the most recent TWC is accurate, this was one of a few sporadic gigs rather than part of a full scale tour, and that might explain a lot. It wasn't a great gig, it wasn't a bad gig; it wasn't even an OK gig. Rather, some parts were great, other parts weren't. The set list contained one new song (new to the band, at any rate), and some of the old songs showed evidence of having been reworked slightly.

C'mon still starts things off, and modification and change are nothing new to the intro here, and this hasn't changed. There were a couple of bizarre incidents here though - Deke had to leave the stage briefly, then later in the song, Martin's bass was reduced to just three of its requisite four strings. I assume spare bass strings must be well towards the bottom of the luggage, since they didn't find a spare until the third song. Anyway, the bulk of C'mon was pretty much business as usual, with extended use of wahwah on Mickey's solo.

Mad on Her was next, again, not much new here. A tribute to Mr. Ace that he managed with only three strings... or maybe he never uses all four anyway ? The Ride and the View was shunted up the running order, presumably to allow time to get the bass sorted during the extended guitar intro (which was excellent, incidentally). Wings came up next, and here was an example of apparent change - the song was taken at a slower pace than I've heard it before, and to me at any rate, it didn't really do much for the piece.

If the band are experimenting a little, Chinese Cut seemed a strange choice, since it's been in and out of the set for a good few years now; whatever the reasoning, it was solid enough.

Then came the surprise of the night, the Before Your Very Eyes song, What an I gonna do when the Money Runs out. If any of Deke's solo stuff was to make it into the Man repertoire, I wouldn't have expected this one... 7171, live stormer of old, or Map of India, maybe the best song of his career... but I'm not complaining. Perhaps its airing at the Convention persuaded the rest of the guys it was a worthwhile song, it certainly went down well on this night. Martin described it as "One of Deke's castoffs". If this is a castoff, what an embarrassment of riches the man has.

Feather, certainly the best of their Twang songs, tonight sounded lacklustre and routine, as if the band were easing off a bit early on this night. The main set concluded with Many are Called, as it often does, though with some new guitar breaks from Mickey during the Prelude section, then an encore of Romain and that was it.

As I said to begin with, a mixed bag. The one constant seemed to be Pugwash, who looked alarmingly bored and unenthusiastic all night, only perking up for the encore. Martin was talkative, but seemed tired at times. Deke was Deke, and Mickey never seems to have an off night. But as a whole, this was a bit like a pre-season friendly. If there is a more extensive tour to follow later, I'm sure they'll be back on top championship form.

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