Gig:UEA, Norwich, 30th October 2000
It was reviewed in the Tuesday, October 31, 2000 edition of the Eastern Evening News
"Norwich UEA, October 30th 2000
Some bands sound great on record, but struggle to reproduce their songs live. Others don't really begin to excel until they stride out on stage to stand in front of an expectant crowd. Mansun proved that they rest firmly in the latter category at the UEA last night, thrilling their fans with a passionate performance.
This was Mansun's seventh visit to Norwich, and certainly the best of the three that I've attended. On stage banter was kept to a minimum as there was little more than a nanosecond between most songs, providing a real 'concept concert' feel to the evening. Lead singer Paul Draper (interesting fact - he grew up on the same Liverpool street as Lennon) gave a soaring vocal performance of both power and grace, and he was more than ably assisted by guitar virtuoso Dominic Chad and the rest of the band.
Their anthemic songs were brilliantly reproduced to leave the audience enveloped by an epic soundscape. The set list was nigh on perfect as it took the prime cuts from their three albums to date, although the biggest roars of the evening were saved for the trio of old favourites that came ahead of the encore, namely 'Wide Open Space', 'She Makes My Nose Bleed' and 'Taxloss'. 'Taxloss' in particular was stunning, as it stop-started to great effect causing the front rows of the audience to mosh wildly. As the lights went up the consensus view around me was that we had just seen a band at the peak of their powers - don't miss them if they return.
A longer review appeared in the Wednesday, November 8, 2000 edition of the Melody Maker
"THE ESSENTIAL 'KIX'
UEA, NORWICH 4/5
TODAY will go down in history. Floods, tornadoes, landslides, gales, happy ducks and Mansun. OK, so the nation's cafes aren't bubbling over with talk of Paul Draper's voice or Chad's latest choice of attire (a sort of Victorian jacket with cuffs starched so sharp, you'd tell children off for running with them), but one day they might be. You see, things like this don't happen very often - not the storms, but bands like Mansun.
Three albums into their career and they're still changing their sound, wilfully defying convention. They've been happily picking up and dropping off sets of fans with each new release like some laid-back, musical hitchhiking tour, confused by the mauling they've received from both the press and die-hard followers alike. It seems they can't win - they're not encouraged to develop but they'd be derided for staying the same.
Undeterred, they respond with glorious anthems like "I Can Only Disappoint U", shimmering tonight with mournful brilliance. Mansun are a rare, old-fashioned entity - a band who are developing. Maybe, 13 Top 20 singles down the road, Mansun are still a long way from where they're going. Maybe they don't even know where they're going. But what's so wrong with that?
If you lock out the prejudices, the petty gripes about Eighties guitars, the ridiculous way they're judged by the nature of their fans (who are becoming an increasingly hard-to-define sector), then what matters is that Mansun are different. Christ, I even spotted some charisma onstage as Paul leaned over the audience, goading the front rows, forcing them to work as hard as even him for The Jame/Duran Duran hybrid of "Being A Girl". There's also a new swagger and confidence on display during "Comes As No Surprise" and "Love Is..." - songs that are more laid-back, but delivered with real conviction. How long have we been crying out for a band with personality and intelligence when they were here all along?
"Electric Man" allays my fears that Mansun are turning into an indie Lighthouse Family, while "Wide Open Space" amazes me with its unfading emotion. And who said there was no such thing as a decent guitar solo anymore? Chad's virtuoso offerings tonight provide more than enough air-guitar fodder for indie-kids everywhere to develop repetitive strain injury of the right wrist. Wank-tastic.
"Taxloss", meanwhile, sounds unlike anything they've put to record. It slithers breathlessly from steriod-rock to David Lynch soundtrack and provides the perfect setting for an encore of new and old - the magnificent duo of "Fool" and "Legacy". Finally, "Everyone Must Win" places the band in a truly exciting expanse of punky experimentation. They can go anywhere from here.
But will anyone care when they're gone? Will Mansun leave their own legacy? You know, in the crazy topsy-turvy world where ducks can lord it over us all, who can say?
Paul Draper's verdict: "Yeah, it was good. We haven't played in Norwich for something like three years. It was quite weird really because we put the tour on at the very last minute - we were originally going to tour in January. But when 'I Can Only Disappoint U' went in the Top 10 we were all quite surprised so everyone was like, 'Put a tour on!' The thing about being in Mansun is we have a totally different, new audience with every album. And what we're trying to do is always produce something new. I got the impression that, out of that audience tonight, hardly anyone had seen us before and I think that's a good thing."
Show & Tell - the paying punters have their say:
HOLLY and SOPHIE (both 15), both from BURY ST EDMUNDS Were they electric, man? Holly: "They were absolutely brilliant, amazing." Who's better: Old or New Mansun? Sophie: "All their songs are epic, I couldn't say which is better." Where will "Little Kix" be in the Maker's Readers' Poll? S: "Pretty high - Top Five."
ANDREW (16), and LUCY (15), both from NORWICH Were they electric, man? Andrew: "Yes." Lucy: "I love them. They were brilliant." Who's better: Old or New Mansun? L: "Old Mansun." Where will "Little Kix" be in the Maker's Readers' Poll? L: "Top 10, maybe?" A: "It's one of the albums of the year - Top 10, I'd say."
MARTIN and BRADLEY (both 17), both from NORWICH Were they electric, man? Martin: "They were fantastic." Bradley: "Yeah, top." Who's better: Old or New Mansun? M: "I don't like the new stuff so much." B: "I can't make my mind up." Where will "Little Kix" be in the Maker's Readers' Poll? M: "Halfway down - I'm not that keen on it." B: "Nah, it's good - around 10th." "