Manfred Mann were part of the early 60s beat boom, with great music and a top stage act, and here they were, more than 50 years on, doing exactly the same thing.
At 71, evidently having consigned his portrait to the attic a long time back, lead singer Paul Jones remains a robust presence, still able to swagger through a set of standards, interspersed with the band’s other considerable output. His energy extends to leading the programme signing in the foyer, even collecting cash from CD sales.
On stage Manfred Mann’s signature is all over an output that ranges from singalong pop, through the rhythm and blues that was at the root of early work. Even familiar songs get new flourishes, with Watermelon Man easing effortlessly into Bad Bad Boy.
Along the way there were also reminders of guitarist Tom McGuinness’s own output, and even space for keyboard player Mike Hugg’s lounge piano work. ‘Dad rock’ maybe – perhaps now verging on grandad rock – but delivered with slick energy and an infectious sense of fun.
The least anyone could do was join singalongs of ‘Sha la la la la’ or ‘Do Wah Diddy’, which is just what everyone did, with fervour, Jones turning an encore of the latter into a harmonica masterwork.
The Marine Hall is an excellent venue for such a concert, roomy enough to give all a view, intimate enough to make this a thoroughly entertaining night out – besides being, amazingly, the band’s first appearance in the port.
The Hall was rewarded with a near-capacity audience, and by the time they hopefully return there’ll be sufficient bar staff too?