The Manfreds featuring Paul Jones (vocals and harmonica), Mike Hugg (keyboards), Tom McGuinness (lead guitar), Rob Townsend (drums), Marcus Cliffe ( bass guitar) and Simon Currie (saxophone/flute) stopped off tonight at The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh with their “Makin' Tracks Tour 2017”. A few fans might be disappointed that Mike D'Abo has decided not to be on this 2017 tour, but hopefully we will see him on the next one?
For anyone with even the slightest interest in that first wave of the British Blues movement of the 1960s from which so many hugely successful bands and musicians came out, this was a show not to miss, as on stage are some of the key figures from that period.
The '60s group Manfred Mann were one of the most successful of the era, and their numerous hits with their many R & B and jazz influnces always separated them from other "pop bands" of the time. They are one of the few groups from that period who have over the years been re-evaluated by many and recognised as standing head and shoulders above many of their “pop music” contemporaries. Many members of the band (some on stage here) of course went on to many different musical directions and even more success over the years since the band officially split up in 1969.
Anyone liking classic blues harmonica was always going to be in for a treat here as Paul Jones is one of its great players, and the band went through some great classic blues tracks in these two sets.
As you would expect, some of the classic versions of songs that Manfred Mann had hits with in the 1960s were here – “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”, “The Mighty Quinn”, “Pretty Flamingo”, and “Come Tomorrow” being a few on the list. Very careful here to call these songs Manfred Mann “versions” as Paul was very specific on what a “cover version” of a song means to him – something the band never did. Also nice to hear Tom McGuiness revisiting his “McGuinness Flint” days with “When I’m Dead and Gone”.
I had expected classic blues here with the band, but one of the real nice surprises of the evening was their solid soul/funk sound on some songs. Mike Hugg plays not only great blues keyboards, but great soul/funk too, and add into that the sweet sax sounds of Simon Currie (also playing bass clarinet on one number) and Marcus Cliffe on bass guitar. One of my favourite moments in the show was Marcus Cliffe doing a great solo spot with the classic “People Get Ready”. The Manfreds are much more than I was expecting.
The original Manfred Mann songs may be from the far off 1960s, but there were obviously so many people in the audience tonight who remembered every word of them. Not only that, but the songs and the band obviously still hold great affection in the hearts and minds of so many people.
The new album “Makin; Tracks” is out now, and along with other releases from band members is available from the official website at http://www.themanfreds.com/
Review by Tom King