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Pat McManus Band

Tuesday 19th March 2024

The Beaverwood, Chislehurst, Kent

As our review praised last year, "the legacy of Irish guitar legends such as Gallagher and Moore is in very safe hands", and last Tuesday, the powerful three piece Blues/Rock trio, Pat McManus Band, returned to Chislehurst's The Beaverwood, headed up by the former Horslips, Mama's Boys and Celtus guitarist/violinist virtuoso, plus Paul Faloon on drums and Plunkett McComb on bass.

Suffice to say the band were subsequently nominated in the Best Rock Performance category in our 2023 WRC awards, and consequently a healthy WRC contingent were present tonight to witness not only more of the same, but also of course to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, albeit two days late. Indeed, it was a night of contrast for some us who had journeyed to London the previous night to see The Who at an amazing Royal Albert Hall Teenage Cancer Trust gig. The only contrast tonight however, was the much smaller size of this lovely Kent venue, although there was definitely no contrast, despite their advancing years, in their musical excellence, with both band's still at the top of their game.

After a bit of last minute tuning, the shades wearing McManus was off and running with Mama's Boys 'Blacklisted', followed by the unmistakeable Lizzy vibe of 'Lazy Days', from 2013's 'Dark Emerald Highway', both featuring exceptional solos from the ever-smiling Pat. Slowing things down, it's no coincidence that 'Jump Start My Heart', from his 2020 'Full Service Resumed' album, has the classy vibe of Jimi's 'Crosstown Traffic', although another from 'FSR', the more upbeat riff of 'Doomsday Clock', despite its title, had McManus dancing around the stage, finishing with a Big Ben chime outro.

Talking of Hendrix, it was time for two epic covers, firstly Jimi's 'Red House', followed by Rory Gallagher's 'I Fall Apart', a microcosm, if one needed it, of McManus' technical ability and stagecraft, both coming across loud and very clear. Dedicated to Peter, "if you're out there", Pat's moving introduction to the delightful 'Return Of The G.Man' from 2007's 'In My Own Time', in that this was his first solo album after Gallagher's death, was equally matched by his fitting, slower acoustic dexterity, as well as requesting the audience to "sing for me", which they duly obliged.

'In My Own Time's, foot-tappin' instrumental 'Juggernaut', preceded McManus' appeal for the crowd to "make some noise", backed up by the engaging Faloon yelling "yeah", before Taste's very apt 'What's Going On' (from 2016's 'Live Along The Highways'), given that, for the second year running, I had bumped into Paul in the Gents earlier on! Another foot-tapper, 'Got The Right', another from IMOT', showcased not only another guitar solo from Pat, but also the steady beat of his engine room, namely "iceman" bassist and fellow shades wearer, Plunkett, plus tubthumper Paul. 2009's 'Live...and In Time's cover of Mama's Boys 'Runaway Dreams' ended a storming first set, but there was still time for McManus to pick up his fiddle, as everyone clapped along to an Irish shuffle, with Pat understandably joking at the end, that not only did the band need a rest, but they also sounded better after a few drinks!

After a short break, McManus obviously meant business as he took his jacket off for a marvellous rendition of the Gary Moore influenced, 'His Soul Remains With Me', another from 'FSR', that McManus poignantly dedicated to Jeff Beck, before another guitar solo on Mama's Boys 'Rescue Me'. Talking of dedications, not only did we get to meet Pat's lovely wife before the gig, but amazingly McManus then changed his setlist, as he grabbed his fiddle for 'King Of The Fairies' (replacing 'DEH's 'Cold Town'), kindly dedicating it to the Horslips fangirl in our WRC party! Brilliant.

The galloping groovy beat of 'LAIT's 'Back In he Saddle' was for mine one of the highlights of the night, not only for Pat's Page-esque bow work, but also when he raised his guitar right into the air, with the Beaverwood faithful fearing a possible rip in the roof of their much-loved marquee! Next up was a cover of Don Nix's 'Going Down', first recorded by Freddie King of course, which was followed by another standout, the rip-roaring 'Honey Trap' from 'FSR'.

Admittedly, being a major fan of Gary Moore myself, Pat's moving tribute, taken from 'DEH', showed that he'd still got the Blues for his, late great compatriot, starting off nice and slow, before his V guitar duly went into glorious overdrive. Indeed, "we will miss that Belfast Boy". A singalong to the neat Mama's Boys riff of 'LAIT's 'Needle In The Groove' completed this blistering set, before the band returned for a well deserved encore.

Cue Pat's graceful cover of the aforementioned Moore classic, 'Parisienne Walkways', after which, when our video was posted on YouTube later that night, drew the inevitable compliments of "killer tone dude", "nice sustainer tone", plus one YouTuber thinking McManus was Steve Morse, although we couldn't have put one other comment any better ourselves i.e. "a cracking guitarist and a truly lovely man". The ZZ Top vibe of Mama's Boys and 'LAIT's 'Straight Forward', ended a good night's craic, as this infectious guitarist conducted a singalong, played among the audience, and then jumped back on to the stage, duck walking in circles, as well as throwing in a police siren snippet for good measure!

Indeed, we love this Derrylin Boy!


Photos: John Bull

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