Man - Basel, Switzerland (Kaserne, Parterre) - 10 Nov. 2002
From Aural Innovations #22 (January 2003)
Well, ironically, it's all because of Lemmy that I learned of this gig. (Ironic 'cause Man were Hawkwind's most common touring mates back when Lemmy was aboard.) Motörhead had just finished christening the newly-refurbished 'Reithalle' theatre inside the Kaserne in (Klein)Basel on the banks of the River Rhein. That show was Friday night to a sold-out audience of 1,200 or so and was as usual a blinder. Upon exit of that show, I then noticed the "MAN" poster on a utility pole promixal to the building, and so there I was again at the Kaserne just two days later, on a Sunday night that turned out to be a little too long for my tastes (me being on a 'normal' working schedule these days). The gig was advertised with a sole time-listing of 20:00, which sadly turned out to be the 'Door' time, the music intended to start at 21:00 (9 o'clock in more familiar terms). That would have been just fine...the scraggly-looking bunch of us in the front foyer section of the Parterre 'club' enjoying a few aperitifs (Hmmm...why only Heineken on draft, whereas the Feldschlösschen brewery is just a stone's throw away?!) while we could hear the soundcheck coming from the larger room behind the big sliding door. "Yeah, that sounds like Man to me."
But then 21:00 came, and we all funnelled into the actual 'music room,' perhaps 120 strong ready for some live action. An opening act was expected, but I couldn't overhear anything but puzzlement from those around the Man merchandising table as to just who this was supposed to be. So then 40 minutes of precious time had come and gone (other folks were restless too, not just me!), and *finally* one dude (that I'd seen earlier in the bar) comes out and saunters up onto the stage and straps on a guitar and plays some useless jangly stuff. Later, he would turn on a drum machine (which was awful) and play with that for some time, and eventually got two other buddies to join him on drums and saxophone. Around then, the music started to resemble something of mild interest, but by then, I was already rueing the day this particular individual was ever born, as I knew that Man was going to go on stage way later than the 10:00 stage time I had seen posted in the bar (again, that would have been ok... Lemmy had walked on at that same time Friday, and I got to my train on time without missing anything significant). So anyway, I did learn the name of this opening act, but I'm not going to tell you who it was for fear of doing something to promote this person's "music." 'Cause I think he was entirely responsible for the lack of 'perfect Swiss timing' on this night.
Man's stage manager guy came partially to the rescue by quickly shooing them and their gear off the stage (he grabbing stuff and carrying it off himself at one point). And so it was a short turn-around and Deke Leonard and crew stepped up at 10:40 to begin. Of course, the stuff I was most interested in was going to be at the end, and the last train home was (sigh) 11:48. However, I had discovered in the Basel train station itself that one final late train departs at 12:30 and goes east *almost* all the way back to Baden (ending one stop short in Brugg, which of course is why it never appears on the online schedule when putting 'Baden' in the destination field). Well, ok, I can walk from Brugg though it's quite some ways (6 km). Anyway, so I decide I will stay as long as I possibly can, which still wasn't quite long enough...but at least I made it to the encore instead of leaving right in the middle of the set!
OK... Micky Jones isn't quite so healthy these days, so the five-piece Man band this night featured one George Jones on guitar, the surname not being purely coincidence. Of course, this is Micky's son. Keyboardist Phil Ryan, who has seemingly come and gone recently from the lineup, was also not there replaced by Gareth Thorrington once more. The standard Leonard (guitar, vocals), Martin Ace (bass, vocals), and Bob Richards (drums) triumvirate completed the picture. Deke is looking his age I should say, and now bears a remarkable resemblance to comedian George Carlin. Most of the first part of the show is to promote the latest releases of course, so we hear four tracks from the 2000 studio release "Endangered Species." The highlight from among these was the 10-minute opener "Conflict of Interest" which was part of the live set starting a number of years ago when it was known as "Do It." We got our first taste of George's guitar work, which was not only more 'modern-styled' than what Dad would have played, it was also quite good. And not really out-of-place either, if that's what you were thinking I meant - he's a talented kid who always kept himself well within the scope of the whole-band-concept-thing. After this tune, Deke took a moment to compliment the Swiss obsession with cleanliness...in the process slagging Germany as always being 'so dirty' (where they'd just spent the previous week or so touring). He went on to tell about his recent experience in Liverpool when he'd mistakenly ended up in the Basel cheering section during the Champions League football match against the Reds. (Lucky for him he didn't stay in Basel for just two more days and thereby have had to experience the Reds' humiliation at the hands of the 'Rot-Blau' once more as FC Basel eliminated them from the competition by way of a torrid 3-0 first half performance.)
Well ok, on they went - "Manillo," an old bluesy-stomp number reborn worked nicely with Deke being in particularly 'sultry' voice, for lack of a better word. "I Always Thought the Walrus was Protected," a song that only appeared on the recent ltd. ed. "Undrugged" CD, was a 'surfier' blues number of Ace's. "Face to Face" saw Thorrington get a chance to do some more work, offering a kind of lazy, squealy synth solo, that in one sense was quite 'cosmic' but also *much* different than Ryan's more fluid style (with lots of runs and stuff). So Thorrington definitely has an interesting and unique style, but unlike George, I don't think he fit in quite as well as a 'replacement' part. Deke switched to his 'bulls-eye' black and white Gibson for "The Ride and the View" (1976 vintage), where he turned it up a notch with lethal slide action. Martin took over lead vocal duties next with "Stuck Behind the Popemobile" which ended with a cool extended march-like outtro.
I was already past my turn-around time for safe arrival home and sure enough the jammin' oldies were just to begin. The first of these was a tune that is *very* familiar (I still have it in my head a week later as I write this review), but I haven't been able to come up with the title. I'm pretty sure it was offered as an instrumental and I just can't put a name to the music (without my Man CDs with me in Europe at the moment!). Anyway, it was a great slab of psychedelic jamming with Deke and George tag-teaming it in good form. They wrapped it up with a shorter hard-edged blues number that I didn't recognize and then took a break for the inevitable encore. I think Gareth started up first with a strange synth-swashing intro (again, quite interesting and more appropriate this time!) and then slowly the rhythm section of Ace and Richards started in on what turned out to be "Spunk Rock" with George screaming out the vocals pretty aggressively. I hung on as long as I could - they made it through the entire first 'cut' of the actual song and so I heard maybe the first 6 or 7 minutes before I had to leave. Presumably they went on at least another 10 minutes or so... and who knows, maybe they even hung around for more? ("Bananas" is usually their swansong.) In any case, I left having enjoyed myself but terribly bitter at the nature of public transportation, false advertising, (again) that damn guy from the opener, and anything else I could think of! Oh yeah, and then I forgot that I didn't know the way from Brugg to my home on foot (especially in the dark with no moon visible) and got terribly lost (Gebenstorf! How the hell did I end up here?!) and so I got like 3 hours of sleep before work the next morning.
Conflict of Interest/Do It
Love isn't Love
I Always Thought the Walrus was Protected
Face to Face
The Ride and the View
Stuck Behind the Popemobile
? (10-min. old classic instrumental)
? (short up-tempo bluesy number)
Reviewed by Keith Henderson