Well, as I am currently Ms Skinty McSkintface, it was a wonderful and unexpected thing to be invited along to this final gig on Paul’s short, but almost completely sold out tour of the Spooky Action album.
My exposure to the music of Paul Draper has come by way of collaborator extraordinaire, Catherine Anne Davies (The Anchoress). Catherine has co-written several tracks on the Spooky Action album, as well as having added instrumentation, backing vocals and additional engineering to the album. Her involvement is heavy, and the album’s credit notes reflect such.
As for Paul’s earlier canon of work with Mansun…this I am not so familiar with, but I will endeavour to take a good listen to what’s gone past. But for now, on to the gig itself!
I travelled with Alison, a lady I befriended very recently. In a crazy “small world” piece of serendipity, we got to talking outside the London Palladium on the day of the Simple Minds Acoustic gig. Alison was there primarily to see Catherine – having come to her music by way of being a fan of Mansun and Paul Draper…and I was there (of course) for both SM and Catherine. We soon discovered that we only live two miles from each other. The world can indeed be a small place!
We got to the venue early and took our place right at the front of the stage. I am never prepared to have such a view when it comes my way. I never expect to be that lucky! But it always pays to be early.
The support was Sol Croft. He has quite a folky style to him. Quiet, unassuming. Just his voice and acoustic guitar getting his music across. I do wish those who turn up to see support acts actually GIVE support, instead of talking all over their performance and giving a fake-ass round of applause when one song comes to its end. It’s such a hollow, empty gesture. You haven’t been listening, so stop it with the fake plaudits, will you?!
I gave him my undivided attention. I was there to see him, to listen to his music and judge for myself. I liked a few of his songs, and I do wish him well. It’s a tough biz to get into. Good luck to your future, Sol…may it be as bright as your name.
The venue filled up ever more as the minutes ticked by, waiting for PD and band to appear. Anticipation was palpable.
Queue Mr Draper’s entrance on stage, and for many it seemed an old friend had just turned up and the party was REALLY about to begin! Paul is quite a funny guy. Relaxed, at ease. He was recovering from a cold, but you really couldn’t tell once things got under way. His vocal performance was not lacking (that I could detect anyway).
The set started with three Mansun B-Sides. As alluded to earlier, I know almost nothing of the Mansun back catalogue, but enjoyed the songs immensely.
For me personally, things started to kick off when we got to tracks from Spooky Action, starting with Feeling My Heart Run Slow. Followed by the only Mansun song I am vaguely familiar with, Disgusting – having watched the crowd sing along to it at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut the previous weekend. (Glaswegians really know how to sing along well!)
It was “stool time”, as Paul described it…which was wonderfully coincidental as he was wearing a jacket through the set, over his Spooky Action shirt. The jacket kept obscuring certain letters, hence the result below…
We were then onto what are fast becoming my faves on the album, Friends Make The Worst Enemies, Grey House and Who’s Wearing The Trousers.
The band was tight and sounding fabulous!
There were two encores. The Mansun fan favourite (along with Disgusting), Wide Open Space – that made Alison endlessly happy – was the first.
The second was a KILLER performance of Don’t Poke The Bear. What a way to end a set!!!
An absolutely awesome gig. I confess to have only listened to Spooky Action twice before the gig, but it will be on a more solid rotation of play as a result.
Thanks to Alison for the company and the great night. And thank you to Paul for the great gig and to Catherine in particular for being one amazing talent and…dare I suggest it…friend. I love you to the moon and back!
If you missed out going to these gigs…get your tickets for the larger scale tour happening early next year…you won’t be disappointed!