The Manfreds performing their – It’s The Manfred’s Tour at The Royal Concert Hall Nottingham on Tuesday 11th November 2014


Images and Review by Kevin Cooper

The long queue of fans keen to get an autograph after The Manfreds performance at The Royal Concert Hall last night would have pleased many a chart topping teen boy band. There is no doubting that they still have the X Factor, even if they have recently celebrated being in the business more than 50 years, having started as one of Britain’s first teen boy bands.

But how many of today’s superstar boy bands will, after fifty years, still be able to get an audience rocking all night long with hit after hit after hit?

Whilst front men Paul Jones and Mike d’Abo share the lead singing ; other original band members Tom McGuinness and Mike Hugg, were supported by drummer Rob Townsend; Simon Curry on saxophone and flute, and Marcus Cliffe on bass, all of whom demonstrated such a high degree of musical virtuosity, that it was impossible not to admire them all individually.

The audience were immediately called into support as the band launched into Ha! Ha! Said The Clown, Sha La La, Fox On The Run, Oh No Not My Baby and My Name Is Jack. Ending the first half, they steamed through an incredible version of Howlin’ Wolf’s classic, Smokestack Lightning, which allowed Jones to show how the harmonica really is an incredible instrument in the hands of a master.

The second half kicked off with an acoustic set which included Mike d’Abo singing his version of Handbags and Gladrags; a song he originally wrote for Chris Farlowe before being made famous by Rod Stewart and The Stereophonics; and Tom McGuiness singing Malt And Barley Blues and delivering an exquisite mandolin backing to his McGuiness Flint hit; When I’m Dead And Gone.

As the evening progressed the mood changed slightly to a bluesier feel, with Jones singing a great version of Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Man. Pretty Flamingo followed, then a very moving Semi-Detached Suburban Mr James and an energetic There was also a massive sing-along, to Bob Dylan’s Mighty Quinn, before they ended the main set with Da Wah Diddy Diddy.

Finishing the night with If You Gotta Go, Go Now, the audience were immediately on their feet to show their appreciation for a band that showed just why they have been around so long.

Including Jones, this band boasts 3 septuagenarians, and to paraphrase a line from the film, When Harry Met Sally; ‘Whatever they’re on, I want some of it’, because there was no let up for the entire evening. Jones and d’Abo, from the piano, shared the singing duties and of course Jones played some superb harmonica sections. Whilst he still has the aura of a naughty posh boy, he has formidable energy, which his many years in the business have not dulled. His voice sounds better today and his range is still extraordinary.

As the audience rose to show their appreciation, the sax playing of Simon Currie, the solid drum backing of Rob Townsend and the intricate bass patterns of Marcus Cliffe, emphasised the amazing pedigree and musical talent of The Manfreds.

Tonight they may have turned the clock back to the 60’s but what is still remarkable is not only the quality of their musicianship but the fact that their playlist contains so many well written songs which are the soundtrack to so many lives and are now a part of pop, rhythm and blues heritage.

Now where is the stage door so that I can join that queue?