The Platform, Morecambe
The Manfreds will be continuing their heavy workload throughout 2018 by touring the country, including a gig in Morecambe next month, writes Martin Hutchinson.
But what makes this tour different from recent ones, is that the band has a brand new album out, and will be playing tracks from it in their set.
For the uninitiated; in the beginning was Manfred Mann, a band whose hit catalogue included the likes of Pretty Flamingo, Mighty Quinn, Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Ha Ha Said The Clown and Just Like a Woman among their hits.
Part-way through the string of hits, the band survived the departure of their singer and front-man Paul Jones.
His replacement, Mike D’Abo, kept the momentum going, but eventually the band – who had veered away from their original R’n’ B and jazz leanings into the murky world of commercial pop – broke up.
The members of the band enjoyed solo success, but in 1991 the band reformed (without Manfred Mann – who was the bands’ keyboard player) for guitarist Tom McGuinness’ 50th birthday.
They enjoyed it so much that they have continued touring to this day.
Original members Paul Jones (vocals and harmonica), Tom McGuinness (guitars) and Mike Hugg (keyboards) are joined onstage by stalwarts Marcus Cliffe (bass), Simon Currie (flute and sax) and Rob Townsend (drums).
Sometimes, they appear with Paul’s replacement as singer Mike D’Abo in a show that encompasses the whole of the band’s output.
In fact, Mike D’Abo appears on the new album, taking turns with Jones to provide lead vocals.
The album is called ‘Makin’ Tracks’ and coincidentally, the first track Smokestack Lightning was also the first track on the very first album back in 1964.
As well as Blues and R ‘n’ B standards like I’m Your Kingpin and Bring It On Home To Me the band tackle some great covers such as Sunshine Superman and Lean On Me.
Relaxing just before a show, guitarist Tom McGuinness says that the new songs have been well received.
“Yeah, the reception has been fantastic and it was interesting to record these different versions of the songs.”
But it’s been a long time since the last album.
“That’s right, to be honest the problem was finding the time to go into the studio. We tour a lot as The Manfreds and we all have different projects outside the band.”
“For instance, Paul, Rob and I tour as The Blues Band and the others have equally busy schedules.”
Tom, like Paul and Mike Hugg are all in their seventies, but show no signs of slowing.
“No, we all enjoy it too much. It’s great getting paid to do what you love for a living, and it’s far too late now for me to get a ‘proper’ job.” He laughs. As for the band’s plans for the year, Tom isn’t completely sure.
“We never like to plan too far ahead,” he said.
“We have the spring dates and there’ll be some in the autumn too, as well as some stately home shows in the summer.”
The Manfreds will be at The Platform, Morecambe, on April 14. Tickets are available from the box office on 01524 582603.