The Boadwalk, Sheffield

Saturday November 1, 1997

Another new venue for me, and as far as I know, for the Man band too. Pretty much in the centre of Sheffield, so parking presented no problem; the Boardwalk is a venue which regularly hosts live music, having a purpose built stage at the far end of the room, with a bar and a hatch serving food along the side.

A support band by the name of Elfin opened things up. Somehow, they insisted on reminding me of Kajagoogoo, which isn't a very nice thing to do to anyone at all. A foursome of a punk / psychedelic / funk hybrid, they were extremely enthusiastic and musically proficient, especially the bassist who showed some impressive finger acrobatics. If anyone's interested, they play this area, and this venue in particular, reasonably often.

As usually seems to be the case, whenever the Man band have a support, I start getting nervous that their welcome is being overstayed, and that there won't be enough time for what the majority of the crowd had come to see. This night was no exception, though the set was actually the same as Shepherds Bush a few weeks previously, minus Spunk Rock, which only seems to get an airing on special occasions anyway. So this means the opener was again Ride And The View, in shortened form. It was an overall competent rendition, but I must confess my attention was somewhat diverted by drummer Bob Richards... in fact it took me a while to be sure it was Bob Richards, since he was wearing spectacles, something I certainly do NOT recall from Shepherds Bush. Hell, for a couple of minutes there, I had convinced myself it was actually Ben Elton behind the kit.

"Who wants to start this one?" - Martin Ace

As seems the pattern now, C'mon is the delayed warmup number these days, and it's clear Phil Ryan is getting more into the swing of things, with much more keyboard on the intro.

The two new numbers came up next. Since my review of its debut at Shepherds Bush, I've learnt the likely title of the first is to be Do It rather than Why Am I So Lonely, and yes, I have to admit, as titles go, it certainly is catchier. I suggest Walter the manager asks Nike if there's any possibility of a sponsorship deal. No matter, I reckon it was the high spot of this particular night, though I thought the instrumental middle section wandered a bit and took something away from the overall sharpness and punch of the song, it has the typical Leonard imprint all over it. Something In My Heart was less successful, but to be fair, the technical problems with Deke's piano meant the band lost all its momentum, and Martin simply looked out of place standing around holding his tuba. (Ahem).

As I mentioned in the Shepherds Bush review, it might be my imagination, but Drivin' Around seems to get slower every time I hear it. Again, there was conclusive evidence that Phil Ryan is finding his way back into being a real contributor to the band, especially in the second part of the song.

I felt the band didn't seem entirely happy throughout the night, but the delay with the piano already mentioned can't have helped. Banter seemed to be at a minimal level, though Martin did his best with some libellous comments about Elton John. We were back with the usual trio of old favourites to finish off, and as the bar called last orders, I got the impression that some of the crowd wandered off, and that the band seemed to notice; still they didn't really take their foot off the throttle, and I thought Romain was exceptional on the night, with some very effective organ from Phil.

In summary, not their best, certainly not their worst. It must be awkward only having a few sporadic gigs, especially with a couple of new(ish) members to integrate, but from what I've seen, I'm sure a few weeks dedicated gigging could make this into a very effective Man band indeed.


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