Sale Waterside Arts Centre, Manchester
19th October 2013
Louder Than War may not be the place you’d normally turn to for reviews of tribute bands I imagine, but at the end of the day if you missed your favourite band playing their reunion tour last year a covers band may be the next best option, as Louder Than War’s Pete McGrath found out when he went to see The Clone Roses the other day.
If you were to go and watch FC United of Manchester, you wouldn’t expect to see the soccer skills of Rooney or Van Persie. In much the same way, if you go to see The Clone Roses, you don’t get Brown, Squire, Mani & Reni.
What you do get though is a perfectly acceptable slab of entertainment, and a reminder of some of those great songs from that wonderful debut album of two decades ago. If you can get your head around Liverpool and its Beatles tribute bands, then you are heading in the same direction as Manchester’s Roses tributes.
Vested interest – I’m in a covers band myself and we play some Roses stuff in our set. Interesting to see other musicians tackling the same songs slightly differently. I have to say I think the sound let The Clones down a bit tonight. Maybe it was the anti-noise-pollution rules of the Sale Waterside Arts Centre, but I felt the drums and bass lacked the punch that’s needed for a real knock-em-dead live act. One of my companions, who followed the original Roses around Europe in 89-90, picked up on this:
“They always did have dodgy sound back in the day. These guys are being pretty faithful!”
The songs are of course brilliant timeless singalong slices of guitar pop. I mentioned the debut album of 1989 … well, it’s an oft-forgotten fact that some of the b-sides and EP tracks are as good as anything on the LP. The Clone Roses’ setlist leans at times towards these less well-known tunes such as “Mersey Paradise” and “Where Angels Play”. The Clones themselves play their parts to the full, “Brown” strutting around the stage waving his sleigh bells high and regularly shouting “Man-chiss-toh!” His voice is uncannily similar to the real Ian Brown, probably slightly better in fact!
“Squire” plays it cool, in tweed jacket, regularly switching guitars between Strat and Les Paul; “Mani” twists and turns, weaving his rainbow customised Jack Casady bass around like the headstock is following a firefly; The only slight disappointment is “Reni” who is far too static to be a convincing Reni. He certainly looks the part in Brazil style soccer jersey, beanie hat and fake dreads a-la the Heaton Park gigs, but we need a drummer who plays his kit like an octopus on hallucinogenics to be really convinced.
Heaton Park is mentioned by ‘Brown’: “Here’s one for anyone who was at Hea’on Parrrk” he drawls, before the band launch into “Fool’s Gold”. Someone in the audience holds aloft a flare, and the theatre is filled with pungent red smoke. Sure enough the fire alarms go off, the houselights go on and the band are forced to stop. “This happened at a gig in France” my mate advises.
Hardly anyone leaves the venue. The fire brigade turn up and are not happy. “What a waste of time that was” I hear one of them say. “No evacuation took place, and the band started playing again!” Yeah, but the show must go on Chief!
The Clones complete “Fool’s Gold” then deliver the other obvious Roses classics – Sally Cinnamon, Made of Stone and I Am The Resurrection to finish the gig. A proper evacuation of the building follows – we evacuate to the nearest curry house, happy enough with the night’s entertainment. And all for just 12 quid a ticket!
All words by Pete McGrath. More writing by Pete on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.