The Trades Club - Hebden Bridge

Saturday 26 October 2002

The Man band last trod the boards at the Trades club back in 1996, when one Terry Williams was in the fold. So it will have been a new experience for more than half of the current line up, but it's a close knit, hospitable community round these parts, and members old and new were all made to feel welcome.

Gareth, George, Josh & MartinJust as well they're a tolerant bunch, given Martin's less than complementary remarks about the carpet on stage "it's like walking on a gobstopper". Anyway, Do It now seems firmly entrenched as the set opener, and from his first solo, you can tell George is putting his own imprint on things, and not just intrepreting his father's licks. George was playing his shiny white Strat tonight, and it had its own distinctive smooth tone on the intro to Love Isn't Love. The song as a whole was taken a slow pace, and built on the rock solid foundation laid down by Gareth's organ.

Josh Ace hopped on stage to join the band for the next couple of numbers, contributing to two of his dad's songs. We were then treated to that comparative rarity at Man gigs, when a few girls took adavantage of the open space infront of the stage and started dancing; it only takes a couple, but it all helps to add to the atmosphere of the night.

Gibsons!Face to Face came up next, and again you could tell George was taking his part in his own direction, and indeed, so he should. Gareth's moog solo is still there, but it still sounds out of place to me. So far, it had been a solid, though unspectacular gig, with Bob Richards being noticably subdued. But round about now, half way through, it seemed like someone suddenly took the hand brake off, and the performance reached a very different level. Deke strapped on his Gibson, and George took up his own, and Ride and the View was simply magnificent. The playing was vigourous, almost violent, almost as if they were trying to see who would be the first to break a string. Remarkably, neither did. Though the song wasn't stretched out to its Pugwash era length, it was given room to breathe - Deke and George swapped solos, using and discarding the slide as the fancy took them; and Gareth chipped in with a superb Hammond solo. I have no idea why, but the gig was simply cranked up a notch. Or maybe two.

And they didn't slacken the pace for the rest of the night. Popemobile was performed with great gusto, and Martin was putting it all into his vocals, a real tour de force; as a frontman, this guy is simply overqualified. 7171-551 closed the main set, and by now they could do no wrong. Again solos were traded, again a brilliant demonstration of the Hammond from Gareth. But here is a very curious thing - a terrific outing for one of Deke's signature pieces - and no trace of a wah wah. Weird.

The crowd, of course, loved it. The band left, and returned, and Ace further demonstrated his renaissance man qualities by giving some impromptu film criticism, taking Mulholland Drive as his subject. Welcome as this was, it wasn't what the crowd wanted. What the crowd wanted was Spunk Rock. So Spunk Rock was what the crowd got. Josh Ace again joined in, and it was noisy, it was perhaps confused, but it was marvellous. And as a hint that they may have been thinking about the extensive back catalogue, the riff from Mad on Her was given an airing. Romaine finished things off, and it was smiles all round. They promised not to leave it so long until they next play here, and we shall have to hold them to that.

She INSISTED I take her photoMicky's current absence is a great loss to live music, but as usual, if you look hard enough, you'll find a silver lining. Two silver linings, in fact: Deke has taken the opportunity to remind us that, while he isn't Micky Jones, he is no slouch on the six string; and George has shown the confidence to progress and develop as an individual, and prove that while he is certainly his father's son, he should be appreciated as a talent in his own right.

There are pics from this gig in the Gallery.

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