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IAN MCNABB @ MANCHESTER ACADEMY 31/3/2012 REVIEW BY NIGEL CARTNER

So, time for the show and the regular hardcore fans were present to see their cult hero who arrives equipped with sunglasses and harmonica. Playing a series of songs off the new album, the crowd are very receptive as rapturous applause follows rapturous applause, becoming louder on the more recognisable tracks from his early solo work and timeless ‘Icicle Works’ classics. What I love about Ian’s work is his ability to take the more rockier tracks from his collection and play them in a different direction and mood on the acoustic guitar, sounding just as good too, evident in ‘Fire Inside My Soul’ and ‘Be Prepared to Dream’, two tracks off the ‘Head Like a Rock’ record he collaborated with ‘Crazy Horse’ back in 1994.

You know what you’re going to get with Ian McNabb gigs. He’s very cool and collected and holds a rapport with the audience that makes you feel like he’s just playing to you in his living room, telling jokes and stories in between songs that connects effortlessly with the audience, drawing them in to interact with him from the floor. The government failed to escape the slandering as Ian complimented them on their actions to cause panic in the UK by announcing a petrol shortage, a ploy that netted them a further £35 million quid in a couple of days, prompting Ian to emulate that panic by saying there was a shortage of his new album, so act quickly. Even I couldn’t escape the joke as my question about him being a roadie for ‘The Hollies’ came up, which Ian maintained to be true.

Playing in two parts, the second set saw former ‘Icicle Works’ bassist Chris Layhe join Ian onstage after a mind blowing rendition of Neil Young’s, ‘Heart of Gold’. They played their own classics with ‘The Icicle Works’ as well as snippets of famous tracks that we know and love, bringing a party atmosphere to the venue. With 2nd generation ‘Icicle Works’ member Mark Revell joining them for ‘Understanding Jane’, the possibility that every member of the band was about to appear was not beyond us. Unfortunately, that was not to happen in the encore, but the highlight for me was the final song as Ian and Chris produced a top quality version of ‘The Doors’’, bluesy, boozy rock track, ‘Roadhouse Blues’. Absolutely fantastic, making my night complete!

Again, it was another great night to experience, as are all of Ian’s gigs that I’ve had the privilege of attending, and I envisage further attendance in future when he’s next around these parts. I urge anyone to get down and see for yourself for what will be a masterclass in acoustic guitar and a fun night listening to what Ian has to say. The night at St. Paul’s Church, in association with Helen Martin Productions, on the 7th July where Ian will be playing from the alter will be particularly special to witness if you happen to live in those quarters. ‘Little Episodes’ is only available at www.ianmcnabb.com along with a full list of live dates for 2012.

Thanks to Ian McNabb, Paul Bruns and Helen Martin.

To view the interview click here: - show review here album review here