Tim Stephenson reports on: the MANNING gig 18th Nov 2000 (Leeds)

In my self appointed position of gig reporter... here goes
Driving around large and strange cities at night is a weird experience. The
huge, modern buildings eerily lit for no apparent reason, the city centre
pubs with slightly dressed girls spilling onto the road. Now swiftly into
the run down industrial areas. Might as well be in the antartic, never a
person or car to be seen. Then much to your surprise, in the middle of this post-modern urban hell of dereliction, traffic control systems and mindless youth there is a tiny room, at the back of a tiny pub where a small island of Eden exists briefly.

The first impression is of maturity. A group of musicians entirely and
casually expert with their instruments. The excellence of the playing only creeps up on you slowly - the smooth runs on the fretless bass - the complex acoustic guitar rhythms and picking. By this time you are spellbound.
Unfortunately you have spent so much time finding the damn place that the first set finishes. Bugger.

The second set opened with Swingtime. I downloaded this from Guy's site a while ago - its great. The version tonight far exceeded the mp3. Generally I thought most of the material was actually better than the recorded versions. Not sure why, but perhaps the recorded stuff is a little 'controlled', 'too smooth' or some such. Live and with some excellent musicians, but with not too much rehearsal, the material has more passion (imo). Swingtime is one of the sexiest pieces of music I know of and tonight it was more so than ever. Various material from the two CDs followed, I particularly enjoyed Songs of Faith.

Apart from some superb work by Jonathan on the bass, and Guy showing off on guitar, keyboards and vocal acrobatics, the show was almost stolen by Laura on the sax (as well as keyboards, vocals, tambourine little shaky thing and glittery eyes). Wow! Now I've not seen that many bands featuring a sax before, but I think there's probably not much point now, could anything beat this? She is incredible. Some superb solos almost brought tears to me jaded ole eyes. Guy's guitar playing was damn good too, but he didn't have
glitter on his eyelids and therefore is obviously going to have to take
second place here.

Excellent, superb and ded brill like gig. I'm going to try and get to
Bradford on Friday 24th November. BE THERE.... and get the albums The Cure and Tall

Your unbiased reporter - going to bed