Who – Ian McNabb.
Admission – £11 (advance), £14 (on the night), Support from Claude Bourbon and Phil Martin.
Genre – Rock/Folk-Rock/Pop.
A long time wish was finally achieved last Saturday evening, to finally see the self dubbed ‘Merseybeast’, Ian ‘Boots’ McNabb perform live. Having followed Ian’s career closely on record since the recording of that self titled eponymous LP in 1996, and previously from a distance whilst he was the lead singer/frontman in 80s indie band ‘The Icicle works’.
Ian has had a long and illustrious career, having had some good chart success with the Icicle works, and much public acclaim for his solo work. He once played live at Glastonbury with Neil Young’s backing band ‘Crazy horse’.These days, aged 51, he goes about his business out of the glare of the media, releasing albums every 3/4 years and keeping it real by performing live every year to his large hardcore of dedicated fans.
I’d had a ticket to see him about 10 years ago at the Milton Keynes stables, but an untimely bout of flu had put paid to that. However, the location of this gig, and the uniqueness of the venue, playing a church, a first for me, made this an essential visit. Ros having been aware for some time that Ian was top of my hit list of artists I wished to see live, was happy to attend with me.
We arrived in good time, being aware of the M4 closure, junctions 1-3, and had a nice drink and meal at the excellent ale pub, the ‘Magpie and Crown’ in Brentford high street, having secured parking around the back of the venue. I was quite surprised to find my friend ‘Coventry Steve’, saunter into the pub. Why, I don’t know, as he was the other ticket holder of the MK gig of 10 years ago, but I hadn’t considered on this occasion he’d had travelled back to his roots in London for this gig, it was good to meet up, as it had been a couple of years!
We decided to arrive early into the venue to make sure we secured a seat. The inside of the church was quite modern, which much use of wood panelling, and with a high vaulted ceiling. The seating was long wooden benches, a little hard on the posteria, but all very close to the stage. The church also had a cafe, which the promoter Helen Martin, made sure had a ready supply of beer (bottles of london pride), lager, cider etc.
The first act, we realised, as soon as he appeared on stage, had been propping up the bar in the pub we’d just been in, appropriately as he is French, he was drinking wine. With a mullet a 1970s glam rocker would have been proud of, Claude Bourbon (quality name), treated us to a virtuoso performance of guitar playing. Advertised as medieval spanish influence, he actually veered across the whole spectrum, from classic spanish, to blues, to pop/rock, this guy could certainly play, and was very entertaining.
The promoter Helen Martin’s husband Phil was up next. Difficult to categorize really, a little bit jangly indie pop, a little bit Jarvis Cocker, with some amusing songs which either had deliberate reference to the locality Brentford etc, or had been amended to fit the gig.
Having checked his album out, below, on amazon, it’s clear they must live in the area, as ‘Rainy night in Brentford’ was played at the gig.
After a short break, Ian walked down the centre aisle, and within a couple of minutes was booming out some classic tunes from his back catalogue. My friend Steve and his friend John joined us, and after two numbers, Steve said to me “Well, the opening two numbers were worth the admission alone!”, and he was right. I was amazed at how strong Ian’s voice was, and undoubtedly with 30 years in the business his guitar playing has been finely honed over the years. He also played a few numbers from his new release ‘Little Episodes’. Ian, with guitar and electric piano also banged out a few classic Icicle works numbers, like ‘Love is a wonderful colour’, ‘Who do you want for your love’ and ‘When it all comes down’. His energy and performance were superb, and the 200/300 that had gathered to pay homage to him, were having a whale of a time! He played the title track from ‘Merseybeast’ his classic 1996 album. How good is this album? Well I’ve purchased probably 500-750 LPs in my lifetime, and this would be in my top twenty favourites, with one great track following another.
It was quite bizarre to look around a church, and see the audience, some standing at the back holding pints of beer, belting out the chorus along with Ian;
“‘I’m funky and I’m free This is how I plan to be
I’m a rockin’, good-time boy
And I can’t contain my joy, I can’t contain my joy”
I couldn’t contain my joy at finally having seen Ian, and shall be returning to a venue soon to do so again. My friend Steve reckons he has now seen him 15+ times, and has never failed to be mightily impressed. Please check him out, before it’s too late. Either get hold of the classic album ‘Merseybeast’, or the ‘best of’ below, or even better, buy a live ticket, I suggest that you won’t regret it!