Review: The Manfreds at Lowdham Village Hall

On what was the first day of their 2018 Spring Tour, The Manfreds hit Lowdham the day before the heavy snow returned. With the temperature already starting to drop outside, The Manfreds produced a show of such energy that the Village Hall was rocking to the rafters and nobody need fear the chill.

‘This is a new one for you,’ said Paul Jones, ‘and for us,’ when introducing jazzy instrumental, Cold Duck Time. For fans of this was probably the only unfamiliar number. The tune had a jazzy feel quite reminiscent of Georgie Fame’s, Yeah Yeah which also received a playing later. The opening number gave members opportunity to bat solos between them as did jazz funk, Put It Where You Want It originally by The Crusaders.

The core of the original Manfred Mann, Paul Jones (vocals and harmonica), Tom McGuinness (guitars and vocals), Mike Hugg (keyboards) and Rob Townsend (drums) joined by newer members Simon Currie (saxophones) and Marcus Cliffe (bass) bashed out many of the hits from the Jones era: Just Like A Woman, Pretty Flamingo, Doo Wah Diddy Diddy, Mighty Quinn, and, 5,4,3,2,1.

The hits kept coming with the crowd singing and clapping along, and Jones conducting their efforts from the stage. The group also harked back to their blues roots with King Pin and Howling Wolf’s Smokestack Lightning, which was a highlight.

Currie’s saxophones have given The Manfreds a jazzy edge and this was apparent in Jones’s solo hit, Bad Bad Boy, which was interwoven with Quincy Jones’s Killer Joe, and also on Nat King Cole’s, Straighten Up And Fly Right. Jones pointed out that Cole had written the lyrics based on the content of a sermon given by his church pastor Dad.

The gig also featured two classics from McGuiness’s time in McGuiness Flint: Malt And Barley Blues, and, When I’m Dead And Gone, which McGuiness noted was only kept off number one by Clive Dunn and the novelty hit Grandad! There was also a new ‘optimistic’ McGuiness song, How Lucky Can One Man Be from his new CD. Currie and Hugg had their time in the spotlight with an ambient instrumental Diamonds In The Sand before Cliffe delivered a unique vocal and bass version of Curtis Mayfield’s, People Get Ready. He used a loop pedal judiciously to set up bass grooves to underpin the song’s melody.

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A standing ovation brought The Manfreds back to the stage for them to round off the gig, very appropriately, with a storming version of Bob Dylan’s, If You Gotta Go. This audience certainly wished they hadn’t got to!

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