When you find out you do want to be a Mama's Boy
Two gigs down so far with Hotter Than Hell and Corrosion of Conformity ticking lots of boxes i had forgotten all about.
And as June 2015 was coming to a close I had another chance for a gig. Pat McManus, a gentleman whom I had never heard of before (I know, I know - heretical but there you go) was playing on Friday 26 June 2015 in McHugh's Bar, Belfast as part of the Belfast City Blues Festival
He was also being supported by Drop Circus, who i had heard of but had not actually seen live.
So in for a penny in for a pound and is I have always been on the blues rock end of the scale and Johny had said he would personally stove my head in if I missed the opportunity I felt compelled to take this opportunity by the horns and go see what all the fuss was about.
It was a beautiful (for once) dry sunny evening as i arrived at McHugh's pub which is a really lovely pub to visit and chill out in. Gigs take place in the basement which is an intimate affair as there is no actual stage. This can really help in the feeling of actually seeing the band live and in front of your eyes - not several rows back.
I met up with a couple of the Hallion Battalion in the form of Darren McVeigh, photographer extraordinaire for Jace Media, and the inimitable Jonathan Traynor, Mr Belfast Metalheads Reunited.
I could tell it was going to be a good night.
I went downstairs first off to pay in and get my stamp and was duly met by a bubbly beautiful woman who nearly squashed me with one of the warmest friendliest hugs anyone can experience. This is how I met Sally. As in Pat McManus' wife, manager, merch salesperson and avid networker. OK, I thought, this is going to be a very interesting night.
I stayed down for a couple of songs from The Drop Circus, as they were doing an acoustic set. No harm to them, and they weren't bad at all, but I really wasn't in the mood for acoustic as I was a bit too excited to see some more rock tonight.
Upstairs as we chatted outside Jonny introduced me to a mean mother of a woman with the dirtiest laugh i had heard, decorated in tattoos, a twinkle in the eye, a warm smile and a hearty hug. I had just met Carolyn Ashby (well, she wasn't Ashby at that point, but that comes later) or The Dark Queen - now one half of Uber Rock. Tonight was beginning to feel like an explosion of sensations but felt totally at home too as everyone was so friendly. The Metal and Rock family once more showing its welcoming warmth to newbies and returnees alike.
Then came what i can only describe as an intoxicating hard rock blues filled evening as Pat and his two band mates strode into the playing area and grabbed me (musically) by the throat and all I could do was submit to the tunes him and his band pumped out. He is an absolutely consummate performer, professional, polished and individual with the crowd. In Between he would chat away to anyone who tried to interact with him. And always, always with a smile on his face. He loved doing this and heis energy showed it.
As such, once again, I really didn't know the songs nor did I care, nor in this case did it actually matter. The music, rhythm and songs transcended that requirement. They were new and familiar at the same time as much blues n' rock does, but this time with a subtle Irish twang. Sometimes I find Irish bands a bit cringey especially when they bring traditional arrangements into modern music. But Pat fully understands both genres and blends them imperceptibly. There is no hamfisted attepmt to force diddly dee melodies into rock here - it was seamless, perfect and worked beautifully. I even recorded a little bit of his instrumental piece.
One song that did stand out (if one actually could) was 'Belfast Boy' which is his tribute to Gary Moore - who I knew well growing up listening to his albums - pure rhythm and blues rock. Almost brought a tear to my eye - truly a beautiful song. at the end I had to buy a t- shirt and his album 'Dark Emerald Highway'
Overall, it was a fantastic evening, as I got to meet one of the loveliest men ever to strap on an electric guitar, got hugs from his wife, had fun with the Hallions, met new friends and caught up with a few Facebook friends, including the irrepressible Gary Grattan. Gary got to meet up with Pat earlier in the evening for a good personal interview.
He also did a short blend of some of his footage from the actual gig too. Please excuse the two lunatics at the front of the crowd. Well, if you're going to enjoy yourself, go big or go home.
For a better review of the gig fire over to Planet Mosh for Mark Ashby's review (which is spot on).
And so another great adventure into the world of rock opened me up to more experiences and all good. Pat is a consummate musician of the highest calibre and blinded us with his ability on the guitar. I met so many new friends and thoroughly enjoyed the whole evening. I was looking forward to going to my next gig already.
The Pat McManus Band is also on Facebook and Twitter