vendredi, août 20, 2004

Ian McNabb

Ian McNabb Live : Metro, London

Betty Clarke, The Guardian

Ian McNabb, former frontman of 1980s band the Icicle Works, is a successful example of how to live with a pop star past. His solo career having won enough critical praise to outshine his old band, he's become an elder statesman of scouse rock - he casually tells a story involving protagonists from the Zutons and the Coral - while having enough momentum of his own to headline the new bands stage at this year's Glastonbury.

Falling somewhere Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Tarbuck, McNabb is both serious musician and outright ham. Big chugging chords and endless guitar solos nestle next to football banter, bad jokes and constant asides to bandmates - including Matthew Priest from Dodgy on drums - the mood is one of a celebratory lock-in after an FA cup final. "It's a wonderful show," McNabb opines, disguising his man-of-the-people persona behind a voice borrowed from Noel Coward, "based on true-life experiences."

He's right, on both counts. McNabb yanks his Bruce Springsteen-meets-Neil-Young fodder from the jaws of MOR, through his astute lyrics - offering a dissection on middle age - and catchy choruses. Singalongs are what he does best. Smiling at his past with the inclusion of the Icicle Works' Evangeline and Understanding Jane, he sounds as if he's being smothered by an out-of-practice male voice choir the roar of voices is so loud. McNabb graciously, gratefully, gives in. Stepping back from the mic, he sings only when his new-found backing vocalists momentarily run out of steam.

Though often too long, McNabb's songs are rock-fringed, pop gems. Fire Inside bristles with the frustration of dreams, Stone My Soul is a stab at blue-eyed soul that achieves realism and romance. Having lived up to everyone else's expectations, McNabb spends a second encore indulging in a bluesy, growling version of All Along the Watchtower, trying to surpass his own.