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Boom Boom Club, Sutton, Surrey, 2 June 2006
The true test of a band's changing line-up and future intentions always lies in the basic question do they have any decent songs? And while Man has always been better known for their jams and riffs than de facto songs, this new fresh, young(ish) Man line-up has come up with the goods.
Better still the whole set seemed to have been thought through carefully allowing for some light and shade interspersed with some of Martin Ace's most memorable quips. Above all this hugely enjoyable gig provided growing evidence that George Jones is fast becoming the new heavy weight in the Man Band. Confident throughout as a guitarist, and with a fast maturing vocal style that came very close to his dad Micky at times, the new reborn Man neatly pay due regard to their history both in terms of their new songs and the handful of golden oldies that climax the show.
Martin Ace, Josh Ace and George Jones. Photo © Roger Ford.
The question is no longer can they carry on but rather can the younger Ace, Jones and Thorrington carry the band toward a new audience?
Given the Man brand name the answer is qualified no, but in the evidence of this show, long time fans will not desert what is a startlingly re-energised, enthusiastic, and song driven band, and they might garner additional fans along the way.
Of the new material the title track of the 'Diamonds and Coal' album threatens to become a major part of the band's recording cannon. A riff driven slow burner, the song gradually envelops you on the back of some searing vocals and a gnawing Josh Ace riff that you just can't forget.
The same applies to George Jones's mighty blues outing (some of the titles slipped right by me), which employs a characteristic earlier era Man thumping bass line and a killer Thorrington organ riff. George's vocals sounded just like Micky and he delivered more great guitar lines.
For the rest there was even a Grungy number which really worked and a Josh and Martin co write 'Destination London' featuring a great hook that has made it to Hollywood on film. Martin's tentatively titled 'Pappa Pappa Oo Mouw Mouw' combines lyrical eccentricity and the public premier of the song concluded with climactic George Jones guitar flourish.
Even 'C'Mon' has organically changed with the dreamy middle section slipping into a George led motif from 'Call down the Moon'. The late 80's 'Long Holiday' is now almost a rock and roll workout while the band's closing extended riff driven anthem 'Spunk Rock' resulted in the band taking their bow in front of a rapturous crowd.
Earlier Ken Whaley with Jack Casady style bass lines and Richard Treece's Jerry Garcia style licks brought a touch of the West Coast to Sutton. Some of it worked, some of it didn't but when Treece hits a groove there isn't anyone who can touch him.
Review by Pete Feenstra
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