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You can`t ignore a band where two of the members later played for The Who and The Rolling Stones and one of them went on to enjoy a terrific solo career. So here is a concert review for those of you who are interested!
KERUUNCH – The Circus Hits Town
JAMES JOHNSON postscripts the FACES tour
– and finds the answers to the critics
It apparently doesn`t take long to find new ways to knock a band. Take the Faces for example.
With their British tour over and the plexiglass stage packed away for another day, the word round less charitable quarters
is that they`re past their best; they`re tired, rely too heavily on old material, and the easy-going style they created has near enough exhausted itself.
But that`s a little unfair, wouldn`t you say? Or at least a trifle premature.
Maybe in some minor respects the band have indeed eased up. Touring, in general, is now taken a little more calmly and they`ve even cut down on the boozing.
Yet the firm and unalterable fact is that when they`re on stage they are, quite simply, the brightest, most entertaining outfit in British rock and it`s unfortunate if all they get for their pains is a kick in the teeth.
I caught two concerts on the tour – at Brixton and Sheffield – and it was obvious from both that whenever the Faces play it`s still a mighty big event.
Perhaps, of the two concerts, the Brixton gig was more ostentatious – a whole crowd of Faces` friends in the circle, an unending chain of collapsed chickies being squeezed ungraciously out of the front rows and dragged across stage…while the band provided an extra touch of circus with drinks on stage served by a dwarf standing no higher than Kenny Jones` hi-hat cymbal.
Yes, it was a steaming, rollicking night in the grand old Faces tradition.
By contrast Sheffield was a milder, quieter affair – if any Faces concert could be described in such terms – but interesting in that it provided a chance to watch the band working with things not altogether running smoothly.
The scene was Sheffield City Hall, to be precise. The city had hummed all day with expectancy and when the kids – an uncompromising bunch with rough hands and loud throaty voices – tumbled into the auditorium they brought with them their own tough, loose atmosphere.
Down in the bar it was elbowroom only, with bitter selling fast as the serious drinkers warmed up.
Most barely looked up from their pints as a guy with big boots, large nose and sloping forehead, obviously already well soused, slouched in a corner yelling “Rod-nee, Rod-nee” with the kind of venom normally reserved for football terraces on a Saturday afternoon.
Backstage though, things were decidedly cooler. Promoter Peter Bowyer paced the corridors wearing a face as anxious as an expectant father.
The Faces were late, getting later and all anybody could blame was the English weather, mid-December.
With their usual panache, the band were flying to all gigs in a specially hired plane. That is, all expect little Ronnie Lane, who, in particularly homespun manner, was travelling round the country in a Land-rover with his family in the back.
This time, though, the Faces plane – with all five on board – had been grounded in London by fog. And, with obvious delay, they were coming up by car instead.
Perhaps they shouldn`t escape blame entirely. After all it doesn`t take much imagination to foresee that this might happen in the middle of winter.
Still, Vigrasse and Osborne went on, played a comfortable, punchy little set and came off to find still no word or sign from the Faces.
The hall-manager started getting tense about licenses and Bowyer`s face grew longer as the first rounds of slow-handclapping infiltrated from the front. But at least the roadies appeared unconcerned, knowing anyway that the band have never been exactly the world`s best timekeepers.
“It won`t matter,” said one, casually hitting open a Coke can against a table.
“You know what`ll happen. Rod`ll go on, say: `Ow are yer? Sorry we`re late mates`, they`ll get into the first number and nobody`ll care.”
And, of course, most of the impatience in the audience was really half-hearted. After all it was Friday night, two days before Christmas and the Faces were going to be on stage sooner or later. You couldn`t help but feel good.
Then, with the arrival outside of a Daimler, there`s a flurry round the stage door; noise, speed, action, people pushing and the Faces are there.
A quick dive in the dressing room, time just for a change and a tune-up and then the band are on stage with 2000 voices raised in mighty acclaim.
It was a magical, heartwarming moment. There was Rod raising his glass to the upper circle, Ronnie Wood in trousers like they`d been made out of red foil, Kenny Jones adjusting his drums like the true professional, Ian MacLagan in a tasty piece of tartan suiting and Ronnie Lane looking the East London kid in a natty Petticoat Lane barrow boys suit.
And Keruunch, with the welcoming roar still pouring out of Yorkshire throats, the band swooped into the beautiful opening,
sliding chords of “Memphis Tennessee”.
They had come on cold, the stage was frankly too small for comfort and they looked really a little brusque, even grim. But after three numbers, the length of time they seem to normally take, the band hit full stride, and they really did stride.
Yeah, it sounded fine, music that made the eyes steam, the pulse quicken.
Next it was a number Stewart pointedly described as a new one, twice in fact, although forgetting to mention the title. But the chugging, rolling, momentum of it was just the impetus needed for the crowd to rise to its feet as one.
By “Maybe I`m Amazed” it started to look as if the Faces were enjoying it too. It`s an old number, yes, but still sounded fresh, while “I`d Rather Go Blind” was amazing, with Wood splicing off pealing guitar notes before shuddering into a chord and Stewart proving once again that he`s one of the monster, razor-edged vocalists of all time.
As is usual, Wood had virtually his own spot on “All You Need”, sliding over the frets with cigarette jutting out between firmly-clasped lips.
The band`s next single “Cindy”, plus “You Wear It Well”, and “Maggie May” saw them still warming without perhaps quite hitting top but all the band smiled on “Angel” as the people out front swayed, singing the chorus, hands clasped above heads. An amazing sight.
More numbers, a super-charged encore with “Twisting The Night Away”, footballs kicked out to outstretched hands and finally the band are back in the dressing room looking a good deal more pleased than when they arrived.
By the time they were back at the hotel the general view was that the concert had been a good one if not a great one; no more, no less and nobody really seemed too concerned.
The talk at the dinner table was football rather than music.
Stewart wonders what`s going to happen to the Scottish team now that Docherty is at Manchester, cabaret is provided by Ron Wood taking over the restaurant`s hot-plate, pouring brandy over it and igniting a little dish known as “Plat de Burnze`oteldown` made up of salad, menu cards and anything else that happens to be available.
Mostly, though, the atmosphere is low-keyed. Jones and Lane want to go back to London for the night while most of the others want to go to bed.
Perhaps, by Faces standards, the concert had been unspectacular.
Perhaps it could be said on more run-of-the mill gigs the Faces have indeed lost some of their zip, some of their enthusiasm.
Even so, it doesn`t detract from their performance. At Sheffield they`d still put on a hell of a fine show. Next time they play the City Hall tickets will again be hard to find.
David Cassidy used to be the one that all the little girls dreamed of. When studying this ad you could be right to conclude that he was mighty popular in 1973.
This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these people: Jimi Hendrix, Fumble, Joni Mitchell,
Danny Seiwell, Class of `73 (Hopefuls to succeed), Stray, Trapeze.
This edition is sold!