Georgian Theatre: Stockton-On-Tees - 17th May 2019.
Even though it’s not billed as such, it’ll come as a surprise to many to know that these “whippersnappers” are celebrating their 10th Anniversary (that’s the “tin” one) on the road (including the recent year’s hiatus). So, for a band who I can remember being too young to be in certain venues, let alone melt the stages, how are they marking this milestone on their careers? Has Andrew had fashioned a new guitar, with frets made from exotic metals and Swiss jewelled movement on the tremolo? Perhaps Jamie has splashed out on having a rare keyboard lovingly restored by an order of Zen artisans on the peaks of the Arkengarthdale? Or maybe Nick has responsibly sourced and organically grown and new drumkit (in a Roger Dean fashion)? Nope, not even close. What they’ve done is been out and got themselves a David Neil Crabtree. A what!?!
Yes, The Mentulls are back on the road, twin barrels burning and from what I saw of only his 3rd gig with the band (and 1st “home town” show) are past just testing their new vocalist & more and boy, are they having fun again. In fact, they were absolutely on fire. Taking over the vocal duties, David has really opened the stage up for Andrew to give full vent on the guitar. Not only, but the “newbie” also swings a fair Les Paul allowing Andrew to bounce off him and launch some Wishbone twin guitar in the style of his hero Andy Powell. Not only that, he can tickle the ivories a bit so Jamie can at times free his left hand from bass note duties and really go to town on the big Hammond he now has on stage, or counterpoint himself on the other 2 keyboards he uses. Aside from not playing bass, the only other thing David didn’t touch all night was the drum kit but then, with “Stig of the Drums” Nick in the driving seat, no passengers needed. First and foremost though, David was drafted in for vocal duties, and he’s a big lad with a good set of pipes; he really brought out the vocal side of The Mentulls’ catalogue. The song to watch for though is their cover of Jack Bruce’s Theme from An Imaginary Western, where he’s really pushing and you hear a glimpse of a big voice to really come out. Once they settle and start writing together…. ho boy!!!
Not that it’s all the newbies show though; Andrew Jamie & Nick have quickly picked up the reins and have quickly settled back into their groove, and its really great to see and hear them again launching into Silver Bird, Reflections (I & II) and Time Flies where Nick launches into his solo stint. I swear that boy is part Praying Mantis, the speed his arms flick around the kit and the force and precision he makes contact on the skins. And then there's their own showcase, Instrumentull, where they each showboat and even David gets in on the act as a bona-fide band member. They take things from high-brow prog to downright dirty rock’n'roll, and love every minute.
Verdict, well taking a year off was a big gamble, but they’re back and raw to the bone. Tenth anniversary, if you don’t get this, then the only “tin” involved is your ears!!!
All those who believe in psychokenesis raise my hand........