Some of you will have just enjoyed one or more of the UK gigs. UK MMEB gigs are as rare as hen's teeth, nowadays so I was glad to make it to the Stables at Milton Keynes. This is a smallish modern all seated venue.
There were a few old faces amongst the road crew at the sound check on the Sunday afternoon. I had not seen Chris for donkey's years whilst Ian Tompson was temporarily back in charge of Manfred's keyboard rig. I
know nothing about keyboard rigs whatsoever (except they're expensive!) so it is probably a vast improvement on what has gone before. I didn't think it looked as good, and when Manfred was sitting down; he tended to be
lost from view. Perhaps he wanted it that way.
Some of his keyboard playing at the sound check sounded really good, despite a few technical problems. In the end during the show the keyboards were not
loud enough for me. The show was as familiar as ever (hard to believe, I hadn't seen them play live for a couple of years or more.) I know I am probably just
being perverse, but as well as so wanting the set to change, I also would like them to go back to the instrumental opening. I'm afraid you just can't please
some people! Spirits is in my view an awful and unexciting track to open with at the best of times. With relatively little new, I got the feeling that sometimes the
band were trying too hard to find something different to say, with the music. Having said that, it isn't too long into the set before you begin to remember what
a great band this is. Martha was as good as ever. It is full of atmosphere, drive, excitement and anarchy many modern bands would find difficult to capture.
Carol still works well and Demolition Man was brilliant. On the other hand, they have almost given up on Blinded, which gets shorter and shorter. Even the lovely moog build and chopsticks solo have gone now.
It was a packed house and a very enthusiastic audience. They loved Mick, who was as a showman at his very best, milking the appreciative crowd for
everything he could get. They loved every second of it. Mick did a clever solo before Father and the instrumental For You, one of the few things new to me,
was good enough to make you cry, brilliant Mick. Only problem for me was the guitar tended to dominate a little too much, because the keyboards were too
quiet. Manfred was soloing well. Another new part for me was the solo before Blinded, full of mood and atmosphere. The Davy solo was particularly good. I
just wonder why sometimes, when something gets into a groove like that did, they can't just go with it and see where it takes them. Perhaps I'm listening to too much jazz nowadays.
A special mention for Demon's and Dragons, the only song from '2006' featured in the set. What happened to the superb Mars I wonder? Demons which is a
really nice song, is a great showcase for Noel McCalla, reminding everyone as if they needed to be, just what an incredible voice the man has. I also loved
the interplay on stage between Noel and Steve who as usual provided great support. At the end MMEB got a standing ovation from a packed house. I thought
they looked slightly surprised to be getting such a rapturous reception. Having not played together for a while, and also suffering from various equipment problems, perhaps they weren't expecting it to go so well.
I managed to catch up with Manfred for a very brief chat. With it being the first gig for a while things were a little fraught. He told me that MMEB would be
continuing to tour for the foreseeable future. His next project will be an instrumental album. He went on to tell me that it would not however be a jazz album.
The nearest he could think to describe it, was 'Funk Rock' The idea is to take some very, very well know songs and do instrumental arrangements of them.
There is a lot of stuff written down now, and a few things on computer. Manfred has yet to decide on the musicians for this project. He has already done
some work with a well known jazz violinist. When I asked which famous songs they would be attempting, he mentioned Queen's 'We Will Rock You' and The Beach Boys 'Good Vibrations.'
It is nice to hear that he is back in touch with Mike Hugg. Mike of course was c- founder of the Mann Hugg Blues Brothers who later became Manfred Mann.
Mike as well as working with sixties band The Manfreds has been recording some jazz stuff with Mike Vickers. I will do my best to get to here it before my
next Yawn, so I can give it a big plug on here. These are two seriously good musicians as I might have mentioned before. Manfred does not completely rule
out working with Mike again one day although I don't think he will be doing the Manfreds thing!
I met up with (Graeme The Beaver) Yates as well as my old mate John Arkle at Milton Keynes. I haven't seen either of them in a long time. That is what is so
good about all this all the friends I have made. Graeme drew my attention to a Chris Thompson interview, which if you haven't read already has some interesting stuff in there.
I didn't get to chat to Mick on the night, but he phoned me for a chat after I got home. He is very busy at present on other projects as well as MMEB. He was
going to send me a list, because I am none to sure what I can tell you about and what I can't.
I am also working with Steve and Nigel on a Best of DVD. Hopefully you won't have to wait too much longer for this. I promise you it is absolutely wonderful.
There will be lots of stuff you have never seen before as well as master standard copies of more familiar material. We have some of the old cartoons in
particular 'Instant Sex' for those of you old enough to remember. We have footage from the very early days of MMEB right up to more recent line-ups.
One of the highlights is 'Martha's Madman' from Budapest. Yes I know that anybody who is even half an MMEB fan will have a ropey version of Budapest.
None of you will however have the black and white version with an incredible unedited moog solo. A solo I might add to end all moog solos. Tremble with anticipation my friends.
When we did the boxed set, limited space meant that my liner notes had to be cut down to fit. I did a lot of research for that project and ironically it was mostly
the new stuff that got lost in the final edit. Nigel and I are looking at the possibility of putting some of this on the web site, so watch this space.
My own second novel 'The Chronicles of Prudence Fairweather' Part 2 'Efulric the Apprentice' is out now. I got some great feed back of some of you guys for
the first book. Thanks for your support. I've even had good reviews from a couple of English teachers and a Librarian, which I didn't expect! You can buy
both books on Amazon. Just type Prudence Fairweather in the book section and they should come up.
Sorry if I missed you at Milton Keynes. See you next time.