1 week ago
From our good friend Andy Brooksbank - a review and photos Ian McNabb show on Saturday.
Ian McNabb - Selby Town Hall 1 June 2019
Selby, a historic town in North Yorkshire and famous for its stunning Abbey (1069), has a tiny little venue tucked away, a best kept secret if you will. Originally a Methodist chapel built in 1862, but the building fell into disrepair in the early 1990’s before been purchased by the town council, it houses the local council offices but also (from 2003) doubles up to some degree as a small intimate venue and Intimate really is the best word to describe this fabulous little place, Ian McNabb is one of a long line of artists to grace it’s tiny stage...
Ian is in possession of one of the most recognizable voices in rock, indeed it was that voice that caught my attention way back in 1983, and the song was Birds Fly (A Whisper to a Scream).
Wandering onto the tiny stage with a mouth organ around his neck and a pint of Ireland’s finest in his hand, Ian is surrounded by nothing but four guitars and an electric piano.
A warm balmy June evening and Liverpool are playing Tottenham Hotspur in the European cup final in Madrid, Ian’s two man crew are absent, housed up in some local hostelry cheering on the Reds. Ian on the other hand is extremely grateful to see a full house of (largely) non-football enthusiasts who came along to see him play this evening...
Fire inside My Soul, a serious rocker from 1994’s Mercury prize nominated Head Like A Rock album opens proceedings, the original studio recording features the rhythm section from Neil Young’s Crazy Horse, suddenly this once powerful rocker is down-graded to semi acoustic status, closely followed by You Must Be Prepared To Dream from the same record and both work extremely well in their new environment, this was going to be a good evening.
Our Future in Space is the latest McNabb offering, he dips in and out of this for the next two and a half hours, donning a pair of “ELO” blue flashing sunglasses for the title track and switching to piano for Makin’ Silver Sing (a familiar well-trodden tale of life in the music business ) abruptly bringing the song to a halt when someone does the ultimate taboo... and leaves the room “why, whenever I move to piano does someone get up to go to the loo?” asks our hero. Picking the song back up where he left off before dropping it once again when the perpetrator returns...all is forgiven though as he had been to the bar, and proceeded to drop off a bottle to our troubadour.
Ian is in a fortunate position to be able to draw at will from a mighty arsenal of songs, he reminds us of the band he used to be in ” Echo and the Bunnymen, or was it The Mighty Wah?” he jests...rather ironically, and not performed this evening, a faithful but magnificent interpretation of arguably The Bunnymen’s finest hour (The Killing Moon) can be found on his personal “pinups” 2016’s Respectfully Yours set. The set tonight though features a healthy balance of both solo McNabb and carefully selected key numbers from The Icicle Works cannon, adding a handful from their self-titled debut, including his fist stab at writing a love song, the gorgeous Out of Season (“If I stand on a chair I can see her house from my bedroom window” we have all been there right?) and encouraging sing-along choruses for cherished interpretations of Birds Fly (A Whisper to a Scream) and of course Love is a Wonderful Colour.
Liverpool Girl from the 2001’s oft-overlooked Mike Scott/ Anthony Thistlethwaite/Danny Thompson collaboration; A Party Political Broadcast on Behalf of The Emotional Party was a welcome set
addition this evening as indeed was the excellent Merseybeast (from the 1996 album of the same name).
Ian slides effortlessly back once again to The Icicle Works catalogue for dazzling renditions of both the mighty Hollow Horse and a recently resurrected All The Daughters of Her Father’s House both from the 2nd album; The Small Price of a Bicycle. The latter was seemingly unpopular with its author (on release) but not so with the audience this evening...the sing-along choruses are once again encouraged for stripped down but equally rousing renditions of firm favourites like Evangeline and the truly brilliant Understanding Jane (delivered complete with a slightly revamped lyric to fit within this ridiculous politically correct world we unfortunately find ourselves living in these days). Reverting back to solo McNabb and the lengthy Clarabella (Come to the Window) from 2017’s Star Smile Strong album makes a very welcome appearance, given the studio adaptation of this one includes saxophone, piano and Hammond breaks, this stripped down semi-acoustic version performed this evening made the transition extraordinarily well.
Ian has never been afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve, the evening closed with a tasteful interpretation of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold...a rather fitting end to a truly incredible performance, Ian was welcomed by his audience this evening like a long lost son....and it was lovely to see.
© Andrew J Brooksbank ... See MoreSee Less