The Charlotte - Leicester

Sunday 28 October 2001

Martin & Micky

A new venue for me, but not for the Manband, The Charlotte is an unassuming pub just on the outside of Leicester city centre which thankfully did not prove difficult to find. It has long since ceased to surprise me that the range of beers at venues the band choose to frequent is less than impressive, so I wasn't too concerned on that front. The performance area, further back from the where the bar is located, features a small stage in front of a tight, standing only area with a stone floor. The support band (whose name, as usual, I failed to note) were of the indie, jangly guitar genre. Nothing wrong with them, except maybe the sound was bass heavy; oh, and I don't know whether it was coincidence or a deliberate tribute, but the first couple of bars of their third song sounded like a direct steal of Bananas.

So it was down to business, with thankfully a minimal delay. Man's recent tribulations at the RAH and GT2 have been well documented, and I can't help thinking that this really is where you see the band at their best - a simple gig without the potential distractions of clashing egos, running orders or complex logisitics to worry about. This night's performance supports my theory. Conflict of Interest kicked off, initially a leisurely start with Micky's guitar taking the lead over Gareth's keyboards, though as the song progressed a real head of steam was built up through the MJ solo. It was Deke's solo which stood out on Hangin' On, a song which I think is still trying to establish an identity as a live piece.

Micky & Deke

Love Isn't Love continues to blend into C'mon, with layer upon layer of keyboards serving as the adhesive that melds the two pieces together. Micky's solo in C'mon was possibly the highlight of the set, masterful guitar playing which took us on a tour of previously unvisited places. It maybe that by shifting this song to the middle of the set, it allows him to get properly warmed up and in the right mood to demonstrate what a superb musician he is.

There was just a minimal intro to Ride, though there was ample soloing in the middle of the song, and Popemobile, next up, was troubled by a persistent hum. In fact the night was far from flawless equipmentwise, the chief culprit being Deke's amp; doubtless it still misses the cutaway Tele. Many Are Called ended the base set, which featured some excellent Hammond playing from Gareth, who seems more and more comfortable with the band every time I see him. Probably because of the small stage, Bob Richards made do with a minimalist (by his standards) kit, yet he still managed to produce a blistering performance; especially, after a brief pause, in the obligatory Bananas, a better than average version, which brought proceedings to a close, and sent a crowd home well pleased.

Canvasses by a local artist.

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