Manfred Mann's Earthband - On The Road 1971
The following reports are from The Highway Star web site and relate to the Manfred Mann Chapter III tour of Australia in 1971.
Melbourne Festival Hall 1971 Free/ Manfred Mann Ch III/ Deep Purple Tour
Manfred Mann came on after a short delay. Obviously both Free and Manfred Mann had taken the trouble to tune their instruments beforehand. Apparently in England and America there is very little of the on-stage tuning up that we suffer continually here. Of course, it's understandable in the case where a band is moving from spot to spot on the single night.
I think Manfred Mann took us a little by surprise. It was hard to know how they were going to be. Naturally they weren't the same group as had been all those years ago, but nor were they the group that had put out the two Chapter III albums. The surprise was how musically exciting they turned to be.
It all resolves around Manfred Mann's keyboard antics. As well as the organ he used a couple of 'boxes of tricks' that send electronic sounds booming and whizzing acreoss the hall. You half expected to see the sounds if you'd happended to look up. Only at one stage did Manfred play anything that sounded like ordinary organ. The rest of the time it was a thick, powerful drone that created an incredibly textured, alive feeling.
It takes an effort not to keep your eyes on Manfred himself all the time, as his sneakered feet march frantically with the music behind the organ, his torso swaying back and forth quickly hinged at the hips. He looks like an academic. Like a beatnik, who never grew his hair with all the rest of us.
It was an amazingly complex music, full of tempo changes, and style changes. In a split second Mick Rogers would change from a lead guitar role just playing rhythm. The bass guitarist played a solo that sounded like a lead solo. I had to check that Mick Roger's hands were off his guitar. Usually bass solos are a succession of bubbling, booming bass runs.
It was interesting how this and the incentive drum solo were made to be part of a musical structure, to be a meaningful piece of what had happened before the solo and also meaningful to what was to follow. Usually drum solos just become endurance tests for the drummer and the audience. Deep Purple's was like that, though technically it was indisputably a fine solo. All six minutes of it.
Manfred Mann Chapter III followed. Manfred had brought a four-piece group with him featuring australian Mick Rogers on vocals and guitar and Manfred with his organ, mellotron vc3 and other sophisticated electronic gadgetry. Manfred was both electronic musician and magician, casting spells over his equipment and having it answer with a stunning variety of sounds. He finished his set with a super radical "Mighty Quinn" and the second standing ovation of the day. Again volume and rhythm created the atmosphere for the group's sound.
Manfred Mann came on and stunned 'em... for me, they were the best thing of the night... Chapter 3 are a beautiful sound... Manfred himself gave a display of effortless showmanship and his playing was astounding... We always knew about Mick Rogers' talent, but seeing him in this kind of musical company was quite awe-inspiring... Russell Morris was only one of the people knocked out by Mick's guitar-playing, and his lead vocals. His singing is beautifully mouled to the group's sound. Mick may be at the top luvvies, but he hasn't forgotten us... "I recognise a lot of faces from Berties, Sebastian's and the Tum" he told the audience... and little wonder, because it seemed that everyone in Melbourne was there, which only goes to show that rock-freaks WILL turn out for a show that features a world-class line-up... Manfred Mann rocked into their "Mighty Quinn" hit and the whole place was clapping and singing along with them... like Free, the crowd screamed for more when Chapter 3 left the stage...
In The Beginning....(Australian Recollections 1971/ 72)
In the earliest days of the Earth Band (indeed before the band's name had been adopted) they played a small number of Australian gigs. Thanks to Mick Maloney for digging out this material from the early 70's.
Sydney. Even though the Manfred Mann Hordern Pavillion audience was not record breaking for a Sydney concert, the whole affair was memorable for the brilliantly dynamic
musicianship displayed by the Earth Band as they leaped and strutted all over the stage, mimicking each others playing and staging mock guitar battles.
Wendy Saddington gave a surprising performance to move the concert underway and the visual change in this singer was stunning. For those who had not seen Wendy in concert the week before, this was her welcome back from the States performance and the audience loved her.
Blackfeather followed and played the best set of driving boogie I have heard from any Australian band. Neil John's voice was faultless, being even more refined and controlled than before the band underwent its constructional changes some time back.
The La De Das immediately preceded Manfred Mann's Earth Band, with their usual; fine standard of rock. Howard Page later claimed that he had never achieved a better sound with the band (Howard Page is a mysterious fellow in blue denim who you will see missing the sound at almost any Sydney concert you attend). But near disaster was to lurk after the La De's successful bracket.
There was a fifteen minute interval while the stage was prepared for the Manfred Mann Earth Band. This was to be their return to Australian audiences following their tour of the country with Deep Purple last year.
The group made a grand and colourful entrance of feedback and spaced sound contortions and then rocked straight into their opening number. But after only a few minutes playing, an unbearable static began issuing forth from their PA and the anti-climax of making a second opening once the fault was rectified had to be suffered. This disturbance was later explained as faulty lead connections.
Earth Band made their entrance once more, paying their respects to their favourite Australian band, Chain, by ripping right into Black & Blue. This time Manfred made no mistake about
taking everyone on a musical trip which never let down until its peaking finale. The band has its own sound engineer and these people deserve credit for the incredible effects they
achieved, such as underlying the group with taped accompaniments while Manfred mimed them like some cunning wizard as music seemed to come from nowhere.
The band's final song was a Manfred Mann standard, Mighty Quinn. It was with some irony that Manfred announced, "For our last number, here's something I recorded back in '67 - when I used to be a pop star."
A unique musical and visual experience, Manfred Mann's Earth Band was really dug. We hope they make yet another return performance.
Last night at N.S.W. University's Roundhouse, Manfred Mann's Earth Band played probably the best concert of their tour.
The concert was completely free of hassles (not like most of the other ones) and ran very smoothly.
Lobby Loyde's new band Coloured Balls opened the concert, and played quite a good set. Lobby certainly carries the very young band and his guitar playing has never been better.
Friends followed the Coloured Balls, they are now resident in Sydney, and since living in Sydney they have built up a large following which was obvious by the audiences reaction. Friends set was particularly good, and was highlighted by the powerful drumming of Mark Kennedy and Charlie Tamahai.
After a short break, Manfred Mann's Earth Band appeared and from their first number, which guitarist Mick Rogers described as a warm up song, they had the whole audience rocking. The Earth Band's sound was close to perfect and it is a really exciting, driving and gutsy sound. They played Chain's 'Black & Blue' next which has an extended middle section to it, through which Manfred doubles on synthesizer and organ. A strong and noticeable feature of Earth Band's music is the way Mick Rogers and Manfred play so closely together. Mick plays a riff and Manfred follows it and most of the instrumental passages are based around the guitar and organ inter-soloing. Mick's guitar playing is better than ever (although he was pretty incredible with Bulldog, he has progressed even further since joining Earth Band), his solos are fluent and tasteful as well as being dynamic.
I have seen the Earth Band on three occasions now, and it has taken me that long to get into their music. Some people have criticised the band, by saying their music is superficial and based around effects; I don't believe this, the Earth Band's music has a definite feel to it, their songs are well arranged and based around dynamics. Manfred's electronic devices are used properly and not overdone. The whole point behind the synthesizer and the use of pre-recorded vocal-choir tapes is to give the music more exactment and a mysterious type of effect, a whole concept effect.
Following 'Black & Blue' was Gerry Hahn's 'Captain Bobby Stout' which was arranged brilliantly, mainly centred around Mick's voice and his unusual phrasing of lines. The middle section features a pre-recorded tape of female choral voices fading in and out.
The band finally finished their hour long set with Manfred's old hit from 1967 (when "he used to be a pop star") 'Mighty Quinn', which has been re-arranged to suit the new band. The audience reaction was excellent, and many people sat stunned after Earth Band had finished.
Finally, I Think the Earth Band are one of the best to come out to Australia and it's a pity their tour was so badly rushed and organised.
Manfred Mann's Earth Band is clearly the organist's best unit in many years. More immediately likeable than any of the Chapter's he lead and beefier, heavier than the Paul Jones, Mike D'Abo
fronted pop groups of the sixties.
At Stevenage's Mecca Ball Room last Sunday his four piece Earth Band depped for Family, Roger Chapman being ill, and despite what is usually described as a 'disappointing crowd', the band played hard and direct rock with a trifle more melody and musicianship than most 'riffy' bands. Probably they've developed naturally from the lighter approach they started with some two years ago.
The band have been back in Britain only a two weeks after an American tour and have spent most of their time in the studios putting down tracks for their new album but the edge and attack of their stage performance hasn't been blunted by their gigging lay-off.
Manfred's siren wailing keyboards led into a fast simple blaster with the first on many excellent solos from lead guitarist Mick Rogers. "Buddha" featured strong vocals from Rogers and a good organ solo from the leader, who's also some nice simple touches on Moog. Another guitar solo and a short snappy drum feature by Chris Slade closed it.
"Messin," a Mike Hugg ecology type tune is another powerful stamper of a song, and, at last, a black clothed fuzzy haired chick was moved to dance. All alone was she until much later on. Never mind love, I thought you were good, Mick Rogers was good too.
"Captain Bobby Stout" saw Manfred's best solo over Rogers scraping, scrubbing chords and the number segued into "Glorified Magnified," with atmospheric pre-recorded tapes of Bach like choral. Didn't see anyone prostrate themselves in prayer though.
And just for old times sake, and because it's a good song – Manfred included "Mighty Quinn." It's a completely new arrangement as befits the new band, highlighted by a guitar-organ "conversation" or more like a "question and answer" session actually with Rogers throwing back Mann's keyboard lines. A really excellent punchy band and their rock 'n' roll encore with duck calls (thank God the shooting season's over) closed their impressive set.
Melody Maker 20.1.1973
Like fire, volume is a good servant but a bad master. Manfred Mann's Earth Band are an exacting group of musicians who, greatly to their credit, fully understand the evasive qualities of volume and how it can be intelligently used to the best effect, and for real impact.
At City University, London on Saturday, it was hardly possible to fault the sound, it was easy on the ear, clear and clean, yet the centre of a high energy power zone, that could whip up excitement, even in a hall like this one that lacked atmosphere and proper lighting.
In 1967 the then Manfred Mann had a hit with Dylan's "Mighty Quinn." Manfred has kept the number and now its like a monument to the changing years, facing both the past and the future. Around the skeleton of the song itself, is constructed tier upon tier, an edifice of spine-tingling sound. Moog, Hammond organ, guitar, stratified over a bass/drum backbeat – a superb partnership between Colin Pattenden and Chris Slade – that really shifts. It's crisp, studied and balanced.
Manfred has a mastery over his keyboard console. He knows what to leave out as well as what to put in, and the others in the band follow his lead. They're unfussy, selective and let their versatility bring out only their best. That way, too they get a tight and well poised sound.
It was the kind of sound you get inside, there were plenty of openings and though they started off a little cold, a technician's band maybe, as a first thought. But that was "Mercury." Then there was "Buddha" where the full force of the instruments was released.
Mick Rogers, an exceptionally tasteful and loquacious guitarist is capable of moving an audience with both loud and soft solos, no mean feat, and he proves a fine match for Manfred's fiery tenacity at the keyboards.
Another Dylan number, "father of Day" which is on Earth Band's new album "Solar Fire" was specially inventive featuring madrigal tapes, haunting and sepulchral. This ran into "Captain Bobby Stout" (very punchy), "Quinn" and naturally a big call for an encore. It had only been an hour but it was packed with sensation.
The village VOICE, June 28 1973 (New York)
THE SATURDAY LATE show at The Academy of Music was a boogie festival. For the uninitiated, such an occurrence involves nothing more than the presentation or more groups capable of thumping out heavy, generally interchangeable blues riffs and other noise, regardless of how much the audience has already passed out.
Status Quo, a four man British group who had a flower-era hit with the charming if slight 'Pictures of Matchstick Men,' began the proceedings with the typically tedious stomper 'In My Chair.' Their best number was The Doors' paean to futility 'Roadhouse Blues' – "I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer/ the futures uncertain and the end is always near." The lead guitarists injection of a bit of 'Highland Fling' into his solo (which was not included in the performance on their A&M album "Piledriver" didn't help matters much though.
While the stage was being cleared and reset, a harsh voice backed with electronic farts and grumbling boomed "Manfred Mann's Earth Band will be on stage in approximately five minutes" several times. As has become all the rage lately, the group itself came on with a taped cacophony of voices and squeals. The Earth band is not strictly a boogie group, but on stage they tend to let their ideas run away with themselves and once guitarist Mick Rogers starts swapping phrases with Manfred's synthesizer, things get dull rather quickly, even on their best songs. This latest chapter of Manfred's 10 year search for the perfect, unobtainable music is generally more successful on their records. Dylan once said (after an earlier Manfred Mann group had a worldwide hit with his 'Mighty Quinn') that Mann was better at interpreting his songs than anyone else. Sure enough 'Quinn' was reprised, as a plodding dirge that went on much too long, and the group finished with 'Get Your Rocks Off.' A very obscure Dylan tune that is also the title cut of their third album (Polydor).
May 9 1974 - Philadelphia, USA
Manfred Mann worth wait
By Tom Doyle
Special to the Times
Manfred Mann's Earth Band finally made its annual visit to the Tomorrow Club in Youngstown, Sunday Night.
The wait was well worth it, Manfred and his band put on a very tight and crowd-pleasing show of some of the best mature rock in the music world today.
Manfred Mann is a great example of success in the music business. He started with the British invasion of the sixties and had a few hit singles, like most English bands, and then he dropped out of sight. Everyone figured Manfred would go down in rock history as just another flash-in-the-pan British invasion group. Well, that's exactly what happened, until the release of "Solar Fire" the band's return to the limelight. At first everyone, including myself figured here's a poor soul who is trying to cash in on his early fame and make a few last bucks before slipping into oblivion and becoming another gardener, like the famous Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd.
Surprise, surprise, Manfred showed everyone that during his layoff he was doing his studying, because he came back with one of the best mature rock albums of the year.
To prove it was no fluke, the band took to extensive touring to prove that, except for the name, they are a completely new group ready to tackle the competition of the seventies.
Following the good acceptance of "Solar Fire", they released "The Good Earth" which wasn't quite as good, but still a steady album, which was followed up by the excellent album "Nightingales & Bombers." Which leads us up to their newest, "The Roaring Silence" which will probably be their biggest to date.
In concert the band gives us a healthy taste of the new material, which includes 'Blinded By The Light,' a good choice to break back into the singles charts. This song was written by Bruce Springsteen, as was 'Spirits In The Night' from their "Nightingales & Bombers" album, another song which almost brought them a hit single. If Springsteen could only do his own material as well as other people do, then he might some day be a success himself.
The only flaw in Manfred's Sunday show was the lack of most of most of their "Solar Fire" album. I think this was their finest and I missed a lot of my personal favourites from it. Other than that, it was a completely entertaining and satisfying show.
They topped off a perfect evening with an encore of their sixties hit 'Mighty Quinn.' The audience wouldn't let them leave, but they did after just one encore.
The reaction of the crowd was worth two or three encores, but we didn't get three, like the last time Manfred appeared at The Tomorrow Club.
All in all however, it was a great evening of entertainment.
Beaver County Times – Oct 19 1976
Paris Stadium 1979
Manfred Mann must be the unlikeliest looking Rock Star ever. Other musical compatriots of similar years can occasionally heave their old bones around with a dash of panache. Manfred perennially looks like a bus conductor who's just come off the night shift. And as his personal non appearance might not send excitable young ladies into paroxysms of ecstasy, likewise one might have thought, his music.
But Manfred Mann and his Earth Band never purport to be a sweaty rock'n'roll band and the boisterous following that goes hand in hand with such an act is something that they have never hankered after and never had.
Therefore it was s surprise to watch the 2,000 capacity crowd at Paris' Stadium get off on this bespectacled bank clerk/ smart keyboards player and his band.
Technically MMEB are superb. Tight and together, they ran through the set which featured material from the new album "Angel Station" and a selection of the hits which have kept the memory of Manfred bright in these European minds.
Best new tracks were "Don't Kill It Carol" fast and fluid, the Dylan penned "You Angel You" and "Angels At My Gate", a low key number with an almost hypnotic, repetitive chorus.
New boy Steve Waller did an admirable job on vocals and guitar. His powerful voice with it's grainy melodic quality fits in extremely well with the MMEB repetoire. "Davy's On The Road Again" deservedly got the crowd to their feet but only because the song is such a heartfelt favourite, and not through any excitement or aura the band themselves projected.
They finished with a "Pretty Flamingo", "Mighty Quinn" medley, much to the pleasure of the stomping, cheering crowd.
But don't get me wrong, Manfred Mann's Earth Band is not boring. They're an accomplished, professional act which can supply an evening's good entertainment if you're into that kind of music. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would, it's just that I find the rigid confines of the band too soulless and serious to really enjoy.
But everyone who bought tickets for the sell-out European tour don't agree. And maybe you don't either. Make your minds up yourselves and go see 'em.
Paris Stadium 1979
Not having seen Manfred Mann's Earth Band since they played in London at the Rainbow, a year ago, I enjoyed catching up with them once again. In the intervening period between these concerts a new album "Angel Station" has been released and inevitably the stage show has altered considerably to include many numbers featured on it. This is a plus factor, since the "Angel Station" material surpasses their previous achievements.
The other major change is that the post of lead guitarist, formerly held by Dave Flett, has been handed over to Steve Waller. His previous experience includes a lot of session work and also, until he teamed up with Manfred, a spell with Gonzales.
Steve's arrival has benefited the Earth Band, especially on stage where his dynamic lead \axe and general good humour have established him as a focal point. When I last saw them, too much emphasis seemed to be placed on vocalist and guitarist Chris Thompson as a front man, but now the attention has been more evenly distributed.
Although the Parisian fans were delighted to hear standards like "Blinded By The Light", "Day's On The Road Again" and "Spirits In The Night", it was the newer material which had the most impact. Such songs as "Don't Kill It Carol", Dylan's "You Angel You" and "Angels At My Gate" managed to create an intense atmosphere.
It's to be regretted, as the group is obviously better than ever, that after this tour Chris Thompson will be leaving - creating a gap which will be difficult to fill.
An added bonus for the Paris audience was provided by some cleverly contrived animated film, which provoked considerable laughter. Although projected onto a giant screen, this gimmick was not visible in some parts of the auditorium. That minor problem however didn't prevent the French kids from applauding Manfred Mann's Earth Band's visit as a gig formidable.
Brussels Review (1983 - UK Review)
For a man who knows that the reputation of his concerts is a significant part of his continuing European success, Manfred Mann's refusal to play more than a couple of British dates (in London of course) at the end of his 50 date European tour smacks of wilful perversity.
But then, the obstinate streak that condemns Manfred to the status of ageing old fart in this country ironically keeps his music free from the kind of clichés that ultimately strangle so many bands. Sweet contradictions are made of this...
His two hour show at the Brussels Forest National Stadium was one of the most adventurous I've seen him attempt; it pulled the best tracks from his last four albums and most of the excellent "Somewhere in Afrika". If the light show is a bit weak, the special effects and films more than make up for it as a line of ominous-looking dummy heads across the stage brings a sinister touch to the heavy reworking of Al Stewart's "Eyes of Nostradamus" and there's even a robot that waddles into life later on.
These may sound like silly little stunts but Manfred's skill at integrating the music to the visuals has always been one of his strong points. He's not afraid to bend the music for the sake of a good effect and while this sometimes sinks to chauvinist levels such as having a cartoon lady removing her clothes while the band and crowd howl "give me more" during "You Angel You", at least Manfred is a shrewd judge of his audience and the film that accompanies "Afrika Suite" rams home the anti apartheid message unequivocally.
But the single biggest improvement in the group stems from the new understanding between Chris Thompson and Steve Waller who share the vocals and guitar duties and have brought an extra dimension to the band's sound.
While Chris provides the staple diet of the band's catalogue of Springsteen and Dylan classics, Steve has developed a more light-hearted approach on songs like "Don't Kill It Carol" or "Angels At My Gate" which spills over into some wonderful buffoonery on "Demolition Man", making him the unlikeliest heavy rock here this side of ZZ Top.
And through it all Manfred bobs and weaves at his keyboards, happily out of the spotlight most of the time but secure in the knowledge that this is his band and his show and both are still getting better after all these years.
Maybe he just enjoys being an obscurity in this country.
A Manfred Mann's Earth Band Gig In A Very Special Venue - The Kraftwerk Rottweil
By Uschi Schmittele (pictures by Paul Bossenmaier)
Have you ever entered a venue walking on a red carpet? Have you ever thought it would be nice to have a party in a room where red roses are hanging from the ceiling? Have you ever thought it would be fine to have a helmet with you when you were going to a rock concert? No? Then you haven`t been to a concert at the Kraftwerk Rottweil yet. Built about 90 years ago, the power station hadn`t been used from the 70's to the 90's and had abandoned to dereliction until clever people discovered its special atmosphere for various events like the Ferienzauber Rottweil, a summer festival taking place each year for four weeks in July and August. Six years ago (when the Kraftwerk wasn`t yet used as a venue) Earth Band had already played there in a marquee. This year Earth Band, as one of the main acts of the festival played in the larger power station, a gig which had already been sold out for several days.
As Paul wrote a review of the concert immediately after the gig for the Message Board, I don`t want to repeat details already mentioned in his report but introduce you mainly to the exceptional venue. Standing in front of the building you were at once impressed by its size, although compared to Battersea Power Station which is known to all of us from the cover of Pink Floyd`s album "Animals" it`s only a dwarf. What a pity that the admission was through a side-door and not through the main entrance where you would have been walking under the above mentioned hanging red roses. The auditorium was the former boiler room with a high ceiling almost like in a cathedral and with a lot of rusty machines, ladders and galleries. Looking around you could fancy Noel doing a spectacular start, beginning Shelter on one of the galleries and then gliding down to the stage hanging on a steel rope – what a pity, mere imagination. The stage was situated in a hole broken into the wall between boiler room and the former coal depot. Untamed steel tubes and rough concrete formed the edge of the artificial mouth to the coal depot where the biggest part of the stage was built up. Good that Geoff hadn`t time to look up at the almost threatening height of the old bunker and - good that nobody had told the singer of the Band that the demolished wall had been very important for the stability of the building....(Only joking, Noel!)
Surely it wasn`t easy for the mixer and the monitor man to outwit the acoustic peculiarities of the building, especially the stage. You could well imagine that the sound coming out of the monitors escaped up into the enormous height of the coal bunker like smoke into a chimney. From the start of the gig both – audience and Band - were in a great mood and seemed to have huge confidence in the "Amt für Öffentliche Ordnung" which had to give permission for the use of the power station as a venue. Nobody cared whether Mick`s solos or Steve`s bass could cause here and there a loose stone to become a falling stone or a still erect column to become a collapsing one. Soon the singing and clapping audience were sweating despite the agreeable temperature behind the thick stone walls like the power station workers about half a century ago. Concerning Geoff`s effects on the building there was nothing to be worried about. Long ago the Kraftwerk had been planned to be an engine room and so the perfect place for him to show his powerful drumming. And because there is no song in the Earth Band repertoire in which Noel could show his ability to sing in Kate Bushish heights, the few still more or less intact windows stayed where they were. But who knows, maybe the paneless frames you could see at several places high up the walls were the result of Noel`s vocal activities during the sound check. And what about Manfred? Wearing a hat like always he was the only one who was at least a bit protected against the dangers lurking above him. His well known dynamic and sophisticated keyboard solos didn`t fail to cause their positive effects – to fill audience and historic walls with tremendous awe.
After a great gig in a great venue was over many people were enjoying themselves in the adjoining beer-garden in the court of the Kraftwerk where a camp fire was burning in an old steel tray. If you ever have the possibility to visit an event in the old power station in Rottweil – do it. I`m sure you will never forget this venue. Btw in October the Trossingen Conservatoire is performing Mozart`s Magic Flute there. Quite a difference to a Manfred Mann`s Earth Band gig but surely also worth visiting.
Gig Review - Wurzburg (21 Oct) & Winterbach (22 Oct).
The following review is in the current issue of R&R magazine (re-produced by kind permission)