Review & Photography by Rob Billingham for MPM
After what seems an eternity, Pat McManus and his band have, at long last, been able to embark on a small UK tour of thirteen shows, tonight being the ninth performance and fittingly, on St Patrick’s Day! Pat’s fortnightly live streams during lockdown were such a tonic for many and had become compulsive viewing for yours truly and my dear lady.
Pat, on behalf of all those entertained by your inimitable style I say thank you.
And so, to the show. Special guests NO FAVOR, a five-piece rock outfit rom Stoke, took to the stage in the small room at KK’s and although stage space was a little tight, they acquitted themselves admirably and delivered an eight-song set which was much appreciated by the cosy crowd now gathered, but an unfortunate amp head failure meant that they were one guitar down for the last two numbers.
This band is celebrating forty years as a unit, with many incarnations along the way and guitarist Carl Ogden joked that NO FAVORS was probably the longest running opening/support band ever! New vocalist Dani Rankin, who I remember from local band, Lovebite, brought a vibrant singing style and stage presence to an overall performance that was accomplished, tight and looked like they had fun along the way!
SET LIST: Take A Chance, Are You Lonely? Little White Lies, That Girl, No Looking Back, Naughty Nelly, Walk Away, Party.
A quick turnaround, a final levels check by sound maestro, Matt Bircher, and the stage was set for the boys! Pat, Paul Faloon and new bassist Plunkett McComb entered stage left (or is it right?) almost un-noticed.
However, a quick “you’re all very welcome” from Pat, the first chord of Ready To Rock struck and it was Full Service Resumed! So began a set of twenty-three songs in a two hour-ish set.
What followed is what the PMB does and has been doing for many a year and that is playing great music in an unpretentious way, because that is not their style.
Pat’s pedigree is beyond doubt and that shines through on stage, not only through the music, but also his engagement with, respect and love for his audience, traits which Paul and Plunkett have in bucket loads also! Personally, I think all the superlatives that can be used to describe the band have already been used over the years and tonight’s performance proved that they still apply.
The band mixed things up with a well-balanced set throwing in a few Mama’s Boys classics, a couple of awesome Rory and Gary covers and tracks from his latest (or reasonably new, as Pat described it) album Full Service Resumed, which is well worth a listen in its own right.
One show stopping moment and real crowd pleaser, was the twenty-eight-second-long note in the middle of Parisienne Walkways; I’m sure you all now the one! Whilst it is difficult to single songs out, evergreens like Juggernaut, Don’t Look Back In Anger, Got The Right, Runaway Dreams, Belfast Boy and my particular all time favourite Needle In The Groove, were worth the entrance money alone.
Throughout the evening, Pat’s trademark infectious, beaming smile never left his face and judging by all the smiling faces in the crowd it was job done! With Paul and Plunkett joining in the good humoured banter, it all made for relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
All too soon, the band were swinging out the final song, Needle In The Groove; where did those two hours go? An encore duly followed, with a cover of Thin Lizzy’s Black Rose and then a surprise guest for two more songs.
Pat welcomed his long-time friend Ali Clinton onto the stage, someone he has watched develop into a fine guitarist since the age of seven. “We’ve remained good friends even though the little sh*t is better than I am! “, was probably the best quote of the night from The Professor.
As ever, the PMB delivered exactly what it said on the can, in bucket loads, if that’s possible and if you love live music then this humblest, most down to earth of bands is an absolute must see. I can’t wait for next time.
SET LIST: Ready To Rock, Doomsday Clock, King Bee, Crossroads, Got The Right, Belfast City Blues, I Fall Apart, What’s Goin’ On, Juggernaut, Gentlemen Rogues, Runaway Dreams/King of the Fairies, Messiah, Stone Cold Sober, Don’t Look Back In Anger, Honey Trap, Crystal Sky, Parisienne Walkways, Belfast Boy, Needle In The Groove. ENCOREs: Black Rose, Messin’ With The Kid, Rocking In The Free World.