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11 May 2001

Birmingham, Irish Centre
Supporting Ian McNabb

Note: The date is advertised as 30 April 2001 but didn't occur until 11 May 2001

Review by Gerry Gardner

On a day when temperatures reached the dizzy heights of about 27 degrees, the arrival of Ian McNabb with a full electric band assured us that the night was going to be a scorcher as well.

Carina Round a 'local' girl from Wolverhampton got the night off to a fine start with her own brand of intense but thoroughly enjoyable music. Carina, touching on subjects such as a telephone call to her father whom she has never met, balances the intensity of her music with light-hearted banter between songs. Having just released her new cd hopefully more will be heard from her in the future.

The moment that the crowds had gathered for though arrived when Ian, wearing shades and a Bob Marley T-shirt, walked on stage and launched into a rocking "Whatever it Takes." The nature of the opening song set the scene for what was to follow, which was "Friend of My Enemy." Things quietened down a little for "When it all Comes Down," which had the crowd joining in on the chorus, as always Ian encouraging the participation. The rocking version of "Liverpool Girl" from the new CD followed, and in my opinion is better than the version on my favourite CD, ....Emotional Party. A barnstorming "Fire Inside My Soul" lasting a full 10 mins including intro came next. The sweat was now pouring out of Ian and the sunglasses were discarded. The back of Ian's T-shirt read "sometimes I get so high....." a feeling that most of the crowd must have shared as some of the McNabbheads got into full rocking mode and jostled each other at the front of the stage.

The show was slowed down a little, much to everyone's relief, when Ian played one of his own personnel favourites "Camaraderie," switching to acoustic and using his harmonica for the occasion.

After a bit of chat with the audience Ian launched into a rocking new song called "Ain't no Way to Behave" that was greeted by loud applause at its conclusion. Some funny comments about 'saddos' and computers followed and then the crowd favourite "Merseybeast" brought the very best of Birmingham vocals from the crowd. Mokka, Roy and Tom were introduced to the crowd and "Dreams of Heaven" followed. Even I was singing along by this stage, something not usually witnessed at gigs as I concentrate more on taking pictures! One of my own favourites followed, somehow the lyrics to "I'm a Genius" seem to have my thoughts stamped all over them! A Neil Youngesque guitar break did the song no harm whatsoever and I needed another drink at the song's demise.

"Sex with Someone" followed, a song that, I think, doesn't benefit from having a whole band behind it, previous hearings on solo occasions bring the full fun and irony out of the song so much better.

A brief "8 Miles High" led into a thoughtful and melodic "Child Inside a Father," another of the nights many highlights being one of the songs that first attracted me to Ian's music.

We were only what proved to be halfway through the nights entertainment yet it seemed that if the night finished now no one would have any cause for complaint as Ian had surfed through his repertoire and pulled out gems again and again.

It was time for a quiet interlude again after "Evangaline/Jumping Jack Flash," when Ian strapped on his acoustic guitar for "California" and "Out of Season." Another newbie "An Honest Mistake" was followed by a song from the new cd that I still haven't managed to listen to all the way through, "Rockin for Jesus," maybe it's just me but no matter how light-hearted the lyrics, it just feels I've got to say it ....crap is the word I'm looking for.

However with the usual favourites to follow things picked up again and the night was brought to a rousing end with "Understanding Jane" and finally to the crowds pleasure "Stone my Soul." The show lasted an incredible 160 minutes and had that 'special' feeling about it, somehow you knew you had seen the ultimate in entertainment something I last witnessed at Villa Park in 1987 (obviously not at a football match), but when Bruce Springsteen blew everyone away with a 4 hour spectacular. This show will remain there at the top along with the likes of Nils Lofgren at 'Newport' in 1996 and Neil Young in 1987 at the NEC. Birmingham awaits your return Mr. McNabb! A trip to Portsmouth wouldn't go amiss either.

Originally online at The Ian McNabb website

Photos by Fleecyman