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by Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band
Love, Shack

Mick Head at Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool | Saturday 30 November 2019

“It’s gonna be great” said the main man as soon as he took up his position on stage, seemingly slightly surprised by the sight of a near sell-out home crowd of around 1,200 who’d braved the trek through a cold and cloudless evening into the heart of the disused docklands.

The first of a brief series of shows scheduled over the next couple of months as a break from/accompaniment to ongoing sessions with Bill Ryder-Jones for a currently “half-finished” LP with the working title New Brighton Rock, the setlist was comprised of several of those new songs interspersed with choice cuts from Mick’s near 40-year career.

Of course, not all of that time has been spent in active musical service, his various addictions detailed in such vignettes as ‘Streets Of Kenny’ from the (relative) commercial high times of 1999’s H.M.S. Fable album, also represented in the main set by ‘Natalie’s Party’.

However, most of the set was taken up with material from either side of that era, the show opening with ’Stranger’ from the lost-but-then-recovered Waterpistol, recorded in 1991 but not released until 1995 following a bizarre series of events involving a studio fire, a second set of masters lost in an American hirecar and culminating in the collapse of the record company.

Such has been the lot of a man tagged “Britain’s greatest songwriter” on the cover of the NME 20 years ago and, as a member of The Pale Fountains, fêted as the ‘next big thing’ some decade-and-a-half prior to that.

The latter period was represented by the opening track of début album Pacific Street, ‘Reach’, with its trumpet flourishes adding a bit of colour and cutting through the otherwise pretty dense and muddy sound mix dominated by the two electric and Mick’s acoustic guitars, which at times slightly overwhelmed the lead and backing vocals they were accompanying (at least from where I was standing).

That didn’t overly concern the partisan crowd, all relishing a relatively rare live outing from Mr Head who was thoughtful enough to thank everyone for coming towards the end of the show, perhaps still in slight awe at the numbers who had turned up to see him.

The faithful were rewarded with a two-song encore comprising an intermittently shouted-out-for ‘Somethin’ Like You’ from 1997’s The Magical World Of The Strands and a closing Fable in almost-hit ‘Comedy’, which sent everyone merrily back out into the crisp night air. And, at just gone 9:30pm after a 90-minute set, with plenty of time to head back into the city centre for further carousing or to return home to catch Match Of The Day.

(8/10)

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2017 - Violette - United Kingdom
Posted: 1st December 2019
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