The Kite Club at The Station - Blackpool

Friday 17 October 2003

BlackpoolThe Man band have (almost) created a tradition of playing the Kite Club on a Friday night in the depths of winter. The days of the first two, in 2001 and 2002 were blessed with beautiful clear blue skies. But back in February 2003, something went wrong, and the sun did not shine. Evidently, the rock'n'roll gods were disturbed by this, so they conferred with the weather gods, and asked what they intended to do about this aberration. After some thought, the weather gods decreed that the Man band should return to Blackpool that same year, and they would ensure the blue skies would return. And so it came to pass. And the rock'n'roll gods were truly pleased by this, so further used their own powers, and behold, the Man band turned in a storming set. And the people looked upon it, and were truly in awe.

Well, maybe not, but it's as good an explanation as any.

If all that wasn't enough, the renovations to the Station which were under way six months back have been completed, though with no discernible changes to the downstairs area where the action takes place.

George, Martin and DekeRide kicked off in a very promising and forceful fashion, and featured plenty of Hammond plus a moog solo from Gareth; Deke managed to keep all six strings intact, but did lose a pick. A minor detail. Another slight cockup emerged in Mad on Her as Martin Ace seemed to totally lose his lyrical bearings at one point; but after a quick check, all five were pointing in the same direction once again.

There was a reverb effect added to Martin's vocals on Walrus which, though a minor tweak, did actually a lot to the overall feel of the song. There seem to have been some misgivings about the running order amongst fans recently, but the band know better than to take any notice, so we got the third consecutive Ace song in Kangaroo. As judged from previous performances this year, its reintroduction to the set has seen it slowed down slightly.

Bob RichardsThere's a real mood switch next as Gareth's synth creates a very spacey intro to C'mon, ably assisted by Bob's cymbals. George then takes on the familiar riff and handles the lead vocals as well. But what is most impressive in this piece is George's playing in the slower, quieter middle section. He's young, so bound to be still improving, so I shouldn't be surprised at just how good he was. But it bears repeating - George Jones is one excellent guitar player.

C'mon was so good that Feather sounded just OK in comparison - but that is likely a comparison that's grossly unfair.

What's George looking at?7171 is above all a guitar driven song, and it's been back in the set for a while now. I love the song, but I think Gareth is having a hard time finding the right solo to fit in. I'm beginning to think he's looking for what can never be found; this time it was Hammond based. Fine as such, but just a bit out of place. Ultimately maybe the piece should be left as a storming guitar masterclass. Daughter closed the main set, and Bob Richards, who had been as excellent all night as everyone expects him to be, was let off the leash and simply thrashed his kit into submission.

Romain and Hard Way were a brace of short but effective encores, and on the latter it was impossible not be again reminded what a terrific rock'n'roll voice Deke Leonard has - the perfect voice for the perfect song.

The rock'n'roll gods must surely have enjoyed this gig. And to prove it, and for the audience's further pleasure, they arranged for a mighty light show to stretch all along the Blackpool coastline that night.

There are pics from this gig in the Gallery.

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