Colwyn Bay Football Club - Colwyn Bay

Saturday 20 June 2009

James and MartinHere's a new venue for the Manband, further north in the land of their fathers than they are used to visiting. Colwyn Bay is a small seaside town on the north coast of Wales, and specifically, this is the social club of their local football team. Not a big venue by any means, but cosy and intimate, which is how I like to see the Manband. It was all arranged by Lloydie, and I can't sing his praises highly enough - it was clear a lot of effort had been put into this, with plenty of posters and press ads. Good for you, Lloydie.

Support was provided a by a local band, Tramp with a Plan, who gave us a few hard edged angst ridden indie types tunes. They were capable enough, but not as memorable as the Black and Reds from a few nights before at Bilston.

There's no stage as such, which all adds to the immediacy of a performance in my book. What too away from the immediacy were the monitor problems, which led to a delayed start but allowed a lengthy introduction from Martin. Once we got underway, the band were into their stride at once with The Price, and James Beck's guitar on Mad on Her was a real force. Things mellowed out a little with Shadow of the Hand, but even so, Phil Ryan wasn't holding back, and added some excellent piano flourishes.

Rene, Martin and JoshThere was some more monitor bother prior to Speak, and it took a while before Josh's vocals were fully audible, but that tasteful guitar lick the melody hangs on made up for it. Russian Roulette is a good song, but doesn't seem to transfer from album to live as well as I'd hoped; maybe it's the keyboards sound, I can't be sure, but I think it would benefit from some further experimentation. It glides seamlessly into Kingdom of Noise, well performed, but again the mix wasn't quite right.

Popemobile has never been one of my favourite songs, but it seems to be undergoing a slight reshaping, and Josh's guitar playing was a highlight for me. As mentioned previously, he's not a lead guitarist in the conventional sense, but neither does he play the obvious stuff - it's all subtle and complements the song very well. Dream Away featured guitar soloing in the more conventional sense from James, and very good it was too. The band are clearly moving away from longer pieces, but I would have liked to have heard James take this one on for longer.

Steal the World featured some jangly, Rickenbacker-esque guitar from Josh, while Victim of Love was spoilt slightly by sound problems. There was more evidence on Manillo that Rene's drumming is introducing a distinct swing to the band, though it is probably more noticable on the less hectic songs such as this one. (Incidentally, Rene was wearing a single glove tonight... maybe he had come straight from the golf course).

After a solid X-Ray Eyes, Many are Called was given the loudest reception of the night. I don't know whether it was coincidence, but the band certainly seemed to respond, and delivered a terrificly powerful version; again, kept fairly short, trimmed of any unnecessary fat. Very good, and very well received by the crowd.

They returned for three more - Freedom Fries featured Rene's influence again, adding drums which were not exactly funky, but which did change the overall tone to the song, somehow giving it a darker feel. Romain's highlight was some very aggressive soloing from James, and Conflict of Interest was excellent. I wouldn't have thought it would work without Deke, but work it does.

Overall, a better perfomance than Bilston, no doubt helped by a more enthusiastic and demonstrative audience. Again, thanks Lloydie. So... after seeing them live twice now, it's clear to me that this version of the Manband does have a future.

There are a few pics from this gig in the Gallery.

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