News & Review

Live Review: Simon McBride @ Band On The Wall 28/10/2014

Posted on November 7, 2014 at 8:10 AM
Cracking band, appalling crowd

It’s a typically Mancunain Tuesday night: damp and dull. Outside rush hour is dying down but the rain still fell resolutely from above. With the early darkness comes a heightened sense of winter and here it felt like we were truly beginning to enter the coldest season; a chilly wind whipping through the Northern Quarter. The Band on the Wall, while hardly empty, is far from full. It’s perfectly acceptable for a week-night, sure, but those who have made the effort to come down and catch the excellent songsmithery of Simon McBride, a man often uttered in the same breath as such greats as Gary Moore, Rory Gallagher and Joe Bonamassa, are underwhelmingly passionless. Dead. Even with a half-filled venue like this, you still expect some kind of energy, anticipation and excitement – a jolly, ‘let’s have a good night’ vibe at the very least. Nothing of the sort could be heard and felt, consequently making it nigh on impossible to properly get into the swing of things. God knows how it must have been for the bands.

Federal Charm

Local lads Federal Charm, having impressed us when supporting Cage The Gods at The Deaf Institute earlier this year, tried their absolute best to inject some impetus into the crowd. The Stockport quartet played a bright set of up-beat, melodic blues rock. The mix of single coil pickups on frontman/guitarist Nick Bowden’s tight, trebly Stratocaster rhythms and the full bodied lead tones oozing from lead guitarist Paul Bowe’s Les Paul made for a perfect combination. A classic set up but ever effective.

These are strong, groovy and fun songs. The two guitarists play with great passion, loving every minute of the show – although you often forget that bassist L.D. Morawski is even there. Tucked discreetly in the corner, he never draws your attention. You feel that if this band really want to excel then they need something more memorable from the entire band and not just the two main men.

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Simon McBride

And so the much revered Irishman walks onto stage to a tiny patter of applause. Accompanied by bassist Gareth Hughes and drummer Paul Hammilton, they launch straight into well-known cuts from his back catalogue including a sharp rendition of Down To The River and his beautiful and energetic new single It’s Not Over – all to a mooted response. It’s as if the audience don’t seem to care. It’s as if they are blind to the pure talent of McBride and co. No credit should be taken away from their performance however, they were tight, memorable and thoroughly enjoyable; everything the crowd tonight wasn’t. You could see the band try to draw some energy out of the crowd, to feed off their adulation, but the supply was simply not there.

Alcatraz, one of the most gorgeous and powerfully moving blues rock songs of the past five or so years, in my opinion at least, receives on solitary, awkward cheer when introduced. But the band refused to be disheartened and battled through the set nobly.

Then, with the set turning onto the final straight, the cretin of the month waltzes into the room, bottle of Becks in his hand like it’s the holy sodding grail. He takes a seat on the bench that runs along the wall to the right of the stage before beginning to converse at such a volume that he cuts arrogantly over the music. His wife then makes a remark along the lines of “oh, is there only three of them?” and said cretin breaks out into a skin-crawling cackle. “oooh let me count,” he quips in unimaginably horrible sarcasm. He would go on to make the same joke, in slightly different guises but equally as humourless as its predecessors, another seven or eight times. He spoke loudly when the music had stopped too and Simon McBride tried his very best to win the audience over with his charming charisma. “I don’t like music,” I heard the complete and utter fool splurge, I can only assume, what was an audacious attempt to redefine the term ‘moronic beyond belief.’ He summed up the crowd tonight.

The band were fantastic as ever, McBride’s talents unfortunately just don’t correlate with his success though. In a world where any spotty teenager with a good enough sob story and an ear about as musical as George Osbourne’s excrement can become an overnight sensation without so much as breaking a sweat, it leaves you feeling hugely dissatisfied. If a band could make it through talent alone, Simon McBride would be a household name.

Words: Phil Weller

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Categories: LIVE REVIEWS

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