Wet Welsh weather fails to dampen Man spirit..
Released in April 2007, 'Live at the Monmouth Festival 2006' is a recording from last summer when Welsh wizards Man went back to being a twin guitar-led four piece.
Fronted by the timeless Martin Ace, the twin guitars come courtesy of George Jones and Josh Ace who represent the impressive new generation of Man who have taken up the baton, recorded a cracking new album and hit the festival circuit across Europe.
Powered on by Bob Richards who is not only a rock behind the kit, but an inventive percussionist, this DVD represents a whole new era for the band. And while the Man band has evolved and changed, the wet Welsh weather stays true to form with the band and enthusiastic crowd doing their best to remain oblivious to the rain.
It's the sort of occasion when once you've committed yourself to stay the course there's a special connection between audience and band and that seems to have happened here.
Martin launches the quartet into their best material for years via the brilliantly titled 'Even Visionaries Go Blind' from the late 80's. George delivers a pounding blues on 'All Alone' while almost disdainfully eschewing a vocal line or two to concentrate on his guitar playing while Josh slips into the magnificent album title track 'Diamonds & Coal'. And while he tends to mumble his words, he's in good company in a band that was never known for its clarity of diction. The song is a classic, with long linear lines that build up a head of steam and it looks set to be a Man favourite for years to come.
Martin's caustic ruminations on American foreign policy 'Freedom Fries' with its unrelenting chorus is another fine effort while on another cracker, 'Man of Misery', Josh almost shakes of his introspection to briefly move to the lip of the stage. 'C'Mon' is brilliant, and is introduced as 'a song we've played for ages but everyone seems to like it'. The rain pours down but it's a tour de force for George, as he breathes fresh life into the middle section with a few lines from his dad's 'Call Down the Moon'
For the rest Martin whips out a double bass and reverts to being Teddy boy from a previous lifetime on 'Teddy Boys Picnic'. There are a few rough edges in a set that frankly could have done with some better vocals, but the ups far outweigh the downs, and the band take their cue from Bob Richards who is simply magnificent throughout.
Given the weather and the cramped space, the Effigy DVD crew have done a splendid job, as the viewer is right up there with the band on stage, up front and personal. The only trifling criticism is the occasional fall out on George's guitar, and the minute liner notes on the DVD box. That apart this is a fine DVD debut for the new four piece line-up charting the next step for the enduring Welsh musical dynasty.
Review by Pete Feenstra