Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom
Being in Mansun must be very strange indeed. First of all it looks as though you're consigned to the scrap heap after a set of lackluster and pedestrian single offerings, some bad reviews and a few run-of-the-mill gigs. Then sighing, you delve into the book entitled "Rock And Roll The Manics Way", plunder your dads' wardrobes for a bit of an image change then throw your all into producing the most panoramic and ambitious debut LP since "Generation Terrorists". Suddenly, being in Mansun isn't such a bad deal after all, and you find yourselves the new indie heroes for the next generation. But how the hell are you going to cope with that mantle live?
Amazingly well, if tonight's performance is anything to go by. Emerging onto the scene already fully-formed, like some strange rock n roll aliens, the new-look wide screen Mansun are everything you could ask for from an indie rock outfit. Treading perilously close to full-out raw monster mode, they take their new-found fame and ram it back into our faces, wrapping their iron fisted material in velvet guitar solos and distortion-heavy instrumentals. From start to finish, tonight's show was indie rock theatrics and histrionics at its best, sparkling energy and dynamic playing all topped off with a PA system that must've been responsible for killing off the dinosaurs.
Starting with the Bond theme of "The Chad Who Loved Me", Mansun took the stage swathed in a deep blue light, shadowy figures picking up instruments and creating the soundtrack to the movie of everyone's life. Dry ice billowed as the music rose and swelled, then a machine-gun drum roll and a strobe heralded the start of "Ski Jump Nose". Suddenly, the mysterious Mansun were there, in our faces, resplendent in combat gear and blonde hair. Heads down and feet wide apart, the band proceeded to open the gates of Rock Heaven, summoning some mighty sonic creations into the venue, leaving us all gob smacked. A theatrical bow from Paul Draper and they were ripping into the likes of "Stripper Vicar" and "Mansun's Only Love Song", extending each number with a dizzying guitar interlude, or some amazing drums from Andie Rathbone. Witnessing the epic songs from "Attack Of The Grey Lantern" doused in Eau De Rock and let loose into the venue like wild animals, the audience responded in kind, the front 20 or so rows going Radio Rental.
Even "Wide Open Space", a mellow song by anyone's admission, was dressed up in leather trousers, fright make-up and long hair and the treatment of "Tax loss" was incredible, turning the Beatles pastiche of the single into a monster from the deepest depths of hell. All the while, the band struck the requisite poses and stances, Chad in particular looking every inch the rock god with his immobile stance, long blonde hair and cigarette permanently glued to lower lip. Rathbone and bassist Stove played off each other well, the latter frequently standing on the drum riser facing the percussionist, or causing his bass to whine by shoving it in front of the amps. Draper was a front man well-studied in rock folklore, part Albarn, part Cobain and possessed of the kind of voice that could reach straight to the back of the venue and snog those standing there. In the midst of their maelstrom of noise and illuminated by some dazzling lights, Mansun, in short, ROCKED.
Before long, the band had transformed a familiar song into a free-form but well controlled balls-out jam, guitars taking more and more punishment by the second as the staccato gunfire of the drums increased. Chad strangled a high-pitched mantra riff from his guitar as Draper played his with the microphone stand; Stove coaxed feedback from his bass as Rathbone hit every drum known to man in quick succession. After several gloriously intense minutes, this onslaught subsided and one by one the band left the stage, Draper first, followed by Stove and Rathbone, leaving the statuesque Chad playing the same riff he had started with. Then, leaving his guitar facing his amp, Chad strode off and the stage was empty. Sensibly, Mansun chose not to play an encore to follow that performance.
No-one - or nothing - possibly could.
Review was Originally featured on the Alternative Music Magazine
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