Sunday, 19 December 2010

Free Ian McNabb!

It's been a slightly odd evening.

I was given two tickets to see Ian McNabb over in Liverpool by two people I've only ever met online, Landells and NeighbourOfTheDrude. They couldn't make it, and kindly offered me first refusal.

I know nothing about Ian McNabb, other than that he was in The Icicle Works. They weren't a band I ever paid a lot of attention to either. The whole Liverpool '80's "Scene" - Bunnymen, Teardrops, et al, kind of passed me by. I mean I heard stuff by these bands, but apart from the Teardrop Explodes, they didn't really do it for me. I found the Bunnymen's sound in particular quite depressing. Nothing to do with the lyrics. Everything to do with how the song "feels". I don't think I could either name or hum a single Icicle Works or Ian McNabb song.

So I had no expectations about what I was going to see.

Doors opened at half past six, and we got there very early. So we spent almost 2 hours waiting for the gig to start. I was going to have a drink, but after seeing the bloke in front of me get charged £7.20 for one and a half pints of lager, I decided to do without.

As time went by the venue gradually filled, and a buzz of conversation arose. We'd got seats around a table near to a niche through which you could see the stage, but as the band came on, a couple plonked themselves right in front of us so we couldn't see anything. Then they carried on talking to each other through the songs, as did lots of other people. Much to my wife's annoyance. They've paid £16 a head to have a natter over some overpriced drinks? Silly buggers. So we moved to the main bit and stood at the back. This was better. We couldn't see much because we were at the back, but the sound levels were better, and it drowned out the annoying and rude conversationalists.

The set consisted of some of his popular songs, and the complete "Head Like a Rock" album. And this is a bit odd. Because it's not some new material McNabb has written. It's an album from 1994. It was a jarringly unfamiliar pattern, although since I know none of his songs, it didn't matter in the slightest.

The music itself? Well guitars, keyboard, drums, backing vocals (trio of girl singers that he referred to as "The Angels") A variety of sounds, from jangly guitary stuff to proggy rock grooves to some weird thing inspired by Jack Kerouac with just Aaaahhhhs from the backing trio.

My favourite was a song called Child Inside a Father. Reminds me of Barclay James Harvest's Child of the Universe, and Camel's Lady Fantasy.

Not being a "Fan", and being right at the back meant that I wasn't concentrating just on the music. So I also watched the bloke controlling the lights. Not something I'd ever really considered before. I sort of assumed that it was all done with a computer and a sound to light program, but it isn't. It's all done by some bloke pressing buttons and sliding sliders. He interprets the music and tries to fit the lights to it. When he went for a pee, as happened at one point, the lights didn't change.

I don't think a live gig is the best way to experience new music. I wouldn't have paid to go see this, but I'm glad I went.


Pete said...

Where was the gig?

Paul said...

It was at the O2 academy, in Liverpool. I could include a google earth picture of it's roof if you like.