UK Tour Autumn 1993

Basic Set

Over the last few years, I've managed to turn a few friends on to the music of Man by persuading them to attend a gig, but I've always had a bit of a problem answering the inevitable question "what kind of music do they play?" I don't like to have to pigeonhole them, no single category really does them justice, but what do you say? "Er, hard rock, kind of psychedelic but r'n'b, good songs mind you, twin guitars, no not heavy metal..." They defy categorization. What brought this to mind was seeing their Leeds gig get a mention in the listing section of The Guardian on Saturday: "Deke Leonard's eccentric Welsh guitar band". OK, strike out the implication they're Deke's backing band and that's not bad. Eccentric Welsh guitar band. Anyone come up with a better four word description?

Anyway... I'd found them a bit disappointing in the Witchwood in Ashton earlier in the year, but not being the sort of person who bears a grudge, I tried again. Things got off to a less than ideal start when, after parking the car, a puncture was discovered, necessitating a wheel change before the gig. Must have run over something in that backstreet/building site. Better than having to change it after the gig though.

There seemed to be fewer people than last time, but this place always manages to generate a good atmosphere. C'mon still starts the set, preceded by a passage that, if it gets any closer to Big Muff, John Martyn could probably sue over. The opener has grown even more in length, and the soloing has changed too. Mad On Her followed, a little rougher around the edges perhaps. Indeed, all the newer songs sound to have evolved slightly since the last tour - Circumstances is more subdued somehow, Women is more bass driven, and Wings of Mercury has modified harmonies. And, of course, on Feather, Deke had the minor problem of his new teeth to overcome. Many Are Called was as solid and reliable as ever, and Spunk Rock was as wonderful as it was unexpected (they rarely seem to do this song up north), but for me the highlight of this set was Ride And The View. For some reason, it all worked perfectly on this night, and the guitar playing of both guys showed total conviction, including the excerpt from Fools Like Me. Another first class performance.

"Where would we be without Art ? We'd just have to sit around drinking beer..." - Martin Ace

We decided to give Leeds a miss the next night, and headed for unknown territory, the Beer Engine in Wigan on the Friday night instead. This is a remarkable place, possibly a former Working Mens Club or similar, with a decent sized stage in a concert room with it's own bar. Beers available on this side were a bit limited, though round the other side around ten real ales were on offer. The guy on the door selling tickets was enthusing about the quality of the food available, and getting himself outside of a sizeable hamburger to prove his point. Do I sound like I'm proposing it as a possible convention site ? Well, it would be some consolation to the region for not getting the Olympics, and it was used only a couple of weeks previously for a convention for fans of two more of my personal heroes, Laurel & Hardy, which I would have attended had I known. And for the first weekend in October, a weekend Pie, Music and Beer Festival was promised.

And the gig ? Oh, yes, the gig. Brilliant. The start was a bit awkward, as neither band nor audience felt immediately comfortable, but once things got going, everyone had a marvellous time. Some of Martin's early repartee didn't seem to get the usual responses though...

"Better get on with it - you're fucking dying, my son..." - John Weathers

This certainly was a real scorcher of a gig, and not surprisingly, an additional encore was demanded and duly delivered. Spunk Rock was the gold medal winner this time, but apart from the initial uncertainty, it was another great performance.

So, on to the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge a week or so later. Another place I've never actually been for a gig before, but live music here is a regular feature, doubtless supported by the locals who give Hebden Bridge a reputation for being something like the Glastonbury of the North.

The start was delayed due to problems with the PA, and there was a rumour that Martin had received an electric shock; he probably thrives on it. We were treated to another marvellous set, and I personally thought there was more experimenting in the newer songs, such as different guitar lines from Mickey in Kangaroo. Deke substituted Chinese Cut for Circumstances on this occasion, and I'm all for variety in the set; it's not as if they are short of good tunes... Yes, another rapturous reception, and again a second encore was demanded, and once more Spunk Rock did the business, though not before a microphone stand got tangled with it's lead. Pugwash emerged to assist, and Deke's guitar lead also became part of the onstage knitting. Eventually all cables were unsnarled, but Pugwash seemed to relish his centre stage spot, and hung around for a few minutes to add some percussive vocals to the guitar pattern Mickey had been patiently weaving while all this had been going on.

A strange end to another great gig.

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