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MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND
The Underworld,Camden,London 15 March 2004
There's a rush of great gigs happening in London at the moment and
the promoter at The Underworld is doing a fantastic job. On this
occasion a good crowd of probably more than 300 was treated to an
excellent gig by a band with a long and prestigious pedigree. The
venue was comfortably full without feeling too packed, but with only
one poor girl serving behind the bar, she had a very busy night.
The support took the form of a female duo (didn't catch the name)
that featured a double bass player and a vocalist/keyboard player.
Their material seemed to be in a in the vein of early Tori Amos, but
it was hard to concentrate fully given the talking going on amongst
the audience. A good proportion of the crowd seemed to be fanclub
members or family and they spent the whole of the gig talking amongst
themselves. They may have seen the same duo performing at other gigs
on this tour, but for those of us who wanted to listen, it was a
Just after 9pm the Earth Band came on stage and began a good long set
that lasted about 1 hour 45mins. I can't honestly say that I
recognized too many of the tunes, beyond those that were hits or
covers of Bruce Springsteen numbers, but there was a number of tunes
that I would certainly like to revisit.
Given that they only played about 14 songs in all, it is clear that
the band performed most of the tunes in an `extended' format, which
gave the musicians and in particular, Mr Mann himself, the
opportunity to play some extended solos. These were very tastefully
done in the main, with just one or two outstaying their welcome.
In amongst all this there were a couple of tunes that I thought were
quite outstanding. The first two songs of the set made no more than
an agreeable impression on me, but 'Martha's Madman', the 3rd tune
that they played, really made me take notice. A little later on they
introduced a new tune, entitled Mars, and based on Holst's The
Planets that was also hugely impressive.
The band's new vocalist, Noel McCalla was excellent, if a little
under-used. He had that sort of great rock, blues and soul mix in his
voice that I love in guys like Glenn Hughes, David Coverdale and
Seal, yet he also even managed to sound a bit like Zack from RATM at
one point. Instrumentally the musicians were great, spicing their
Classic Rock sound with just enough Prog to keep me interested.
Of course the set just had to include standards such as `Demolition
Man', `Mighty Quinn', `Blinded by the Light' and `Davy's on the Road
Again' and with the exception of the omission of `Joybringer' I had
no complaints at all. An excellent show. Look out for them in the UK
again, this autumn, when they will be playing with Uriah Heep.
Spirits in the Night
Shelter From The Storm
Don't Kill it Carol
Dancing in the Dark
Father of Night, Father of Day
Blinded by the Light
Davy's on the Road Again
Do Wah Diddy Diddy / Mighty Quinn medley (with a bit of Smoke on the
Water thrown in at the end)
Review: Charlie Farrell