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From Pretty Flamingo to Howlin' Wolf - It's The Manfreds
There was good news and bad news at the Lichfield Garrick theatre for fans of the original 1960s pop and R&B group Manfred Mann. The bad news was that keyboard player Mike Hugg, one of only two original Manfred Mann band members with singer Paul Jones (guitarist Tom McGuinness joined a year later) was unable to line up with The Manfreds at the Garrick on June 29 due to his withdrawal at pretty short notice. But fans need not have worried as The Manfreds, which formed in 1991 as a reunion of former members of Manfred Mann, were treated to a fabulous ready-made replacement in the guise of the enigmatic keyboardist and band leader, Zoot Money, who has performed with the likes of The Animals, Spencer Davis and Steve Marriott throughout his career.
The Manfreds are touring with their new album, Makin' Tracks
Despite the welcome call-up of Zoot, his appearance in the six-man band only added to the feeling that this was less of a concert by The Manfreds and more a collection of its parts. This was due to the various solo albums being plugged by the individual band members, while understandably recognising that Zoot was going to treat the sell-out audience to a couple of songs from his impressive back catalogue in the form of 'It Never Rains But It Pours' and 'It Should've Been Me'. There were numbers from Paul Jones' solo album, Suddenly I Like It, including 'Brother Where Are You?' and an excellent version of Nat King Cole's 'Straighten Up And Fly Right'. And there was also an introduction to Tom McGuinness' solo release Playing For Time called 'How Happy Can One Man Be', and a solo offering from bass player Marcus Cliffe.
Manfred Mann in 1967 with Tom McGuinness (far left) and Mike Hugg (3rd right). By Photographer Ron Kroon (ANEFO) - GaHetNa (Nationaal Archief, NL) 2.24.01.05, Bestanddeelnummer : 920-6900, CC BY-SA 3.0,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37187312
Fortunately for fans of both Manfred Mann and The Manfreds there was plenty on offer to keep them entertained. Paul Jones, the original frontman of both bands, remains an impressive vocalist, particularly when allowed to run wild with his outstanding harmonica playing. His great harmonica sound was especially evident on 'Work Song', taken from Paul's other ongoing project, The Blues Band, 'I'm Your Kingpin', which was the B-side to big 60s hit 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy', and on the opening track of The Manfreds' own new album, Makin' Tracks, namely Howlin' Wolf's amazing 'Smokestack Lightning'. In fact, The Manfreds were most impressive when going back to their core blues and R&B sound.
The Lichfield Garrick theatre was sold out for The Manfreds
Other tracks from the new Makin' Tracks album ranged from a re-mastered cover of Georgie Fame's 'Yeah Yeah' to 'Put It Where You Want It', while Tom McGuinness gave a reminder of one of his previous incarnations by singing 'Malt And Barley Blues', a former hit for McGuinness-Flint, which he formed after Manfred Mann split in 1969. But it was clearly the classic hits from Manfred Man's 60s heyday that the audience most wanted to hear, and they went home satisfied thanks to renditions of the likes of Bob Dylan's 'Just Like A Woman', 'Sha-La-La', '5-4-3-2-1', and the still wonderful 'Pretty Flamingo' which remains so synonymous of the 60s sound.