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13 December 1998

Birmingham, Ronnie Scott's

Review by Trina Heath


Last night I thought I'd probably died and gone to heaven! Man, if you missed this one then you missed the best ever...

You're probably thinking 'not another review by this girl'. Sorry, but as I've said before when you know something good you just have to tell those who'll grant you listening time.

So here goes, again...

The traffic was outrageously heavy in the centre of Brum and we were wondering if we'd be let in at all as they're so fussy about time of arrival at Ronnie's. Luckily they'd only just started letting people in anyway - which is always a pallava where that club's administration system is concerned.

Our comrades had already arrived and had safely secured a table near the front. Woohoo!

We then had a long wait whilst the room, which was crammed full anyway with as many tables as they could fit in anywhere and everywhere, filled up to absolute capacity. It was a big relief when Ian's introduction was finally made at around 9pm.

Maybe Ian had been caught in the traffic too, as he seemed fairly pissed off for the first couple of numbers. He was looking weary, with a face full of fuzz, wearing his usual 'SCOUSE' version of the Jack Daniels T-shirt and a black leather jacket.

The crowd was as keen as ever to get him going and any initial moodiness soon dissolved into having a rocking good time.

I've seen Ian four times this year and each time his voice has just got better and stronger and clearer and this time was certainly no exception.

The first set just whizzed past - 50 minutes or so. In fact, we were a bit anxious, as we'd been told the place shut at 11pm and there was Carina Round to come yet as the usual interval support act.

The first set was as follows (apologies for any omissions):

Head Like a Rock.
Out of Season.
I'm a Genius - about time this was given a live airing!
Love is Full of Wonderful Colour.
Looking For a One True Love.
Sex with Someone You Love.
Camaraderie. 'Can I put my arm round you protectively? ...Can I?' (he ad-libbed). CAN HE EVER!!
When it All Comes Down - to lead into the break.
Carina was duly announced and came on and did her usual set. After the third time of seeing her play with Ian we're developing quite a soft spot for her too! She said she was nervous but it didn't affect her usual powerful delivery.

Ian reappeared about 11pm. He'd had a costume change by now and was sporting an 'I'm funky and I'm free' T-shirt and a black shirt. He was totally relaxed and having a great time. Ditto the crowd.

He started the second set with 'Little Princess' which was embellished with a snatch of Led Zeppelin.

Next in the following order (I hope) were...

Still Got the Fever - accompanied by Mokka and Roy Corkhill.
(If You Believe) What Love can Do - off the October 96 demo CD.
Understanding Jane.
Liverpool Girl.
Starry Blue Eyed Wonder - It's about time this was included in a live set! Sadly, it was a curtailed version which led into...
Hollow Horse - We were all singing our socks off by this time!
I'm Game.
These are the days.
He then made his first exit, but was shortly brought back on stage by the tumultuous entreaties of the crowd.

'Have you got to be anywhere?', he asked - and we were glad he wasn't keen to rush off! Ian then introduced his mom, Pat, to us all. What a proud mom she must be! The room was absolutely packed and he was having a ball by now.

He continued with a cover of Rod Stewart's 'I Don't Wanna Talk About it'.

Bloom - what a cracker!

Then, as he put it ,'a good piece of improvisation', as some ardent fans had passed forward some sheets of songs they wanted played. These included 'Tin Can' and as they had kindly provided a sheet for each 'verse' Ian asked for the help of three volunteers from the audience. Two guys and a girl (I was quick to volunteer myself, but missed out on the fun!) then held up a sheet each and Ian introduced it as 'the worst song he'd ever written'.

Then we all sang along with the words, which were held up by the volunteers on stage. Whilst Ian sat at a stage side table and played the guitar to accompany us!

He then escaped again but we weren't having any of it so, after waiting for him to visit the loo he came back and played 'You Stone My Soul'. 'Feel free to join in' he said - so we did...and how!

The audience chanted out the chorus line so ably and loudly that Ian was able to wonder around the crowd shaking the hands of his disciples and even finished off with an 'evangelistic' style 'I had a vision ..' speech at the piano.

Somehow he got off again. But we were not going to be denied and the cries for more turned into more chants of 'Don't you know you stone my soul...' Until Ian made his final entrance.

'Merry f**king Christmas', he said, but you just knew that this moment was probably one of the highlights of his career.

So the show was ended with the stunning re-vamped live version of 'Child Inside a Father'. 'What would I do without you?', he asked as he departed ...'Remember, music is everything, tell everyone'. This time we had to let him go, as the house lights were promptly put back on - for it was 12.15am by then!

The buzz around the place was amazing, everyone was excitedly mulling over the last few hours. It was particularly satisfying for me as we'd encouraged our friends to go too. Two more new converts, without question!

Afterwards, we stayed for a chat with Carina, who remembered me from an encounter in the loo at the last Wolverhampton gig! We assured her we'd see her at the next one too in February....

As customary, Ian made an appearance to sign things and to shake the many hands of those of us who felt the need to congratulate him on his performance.

Merry f**king Christmas to you to Ian!!

Trina Heath
14 December 1998

Originally online at The Ian McNabb website