Ian McLagan at the Belmore, 7/5/13
Photo by Steve Cohen
By Steve Cohen
The Belmore/New Skyway Lounge, Minneapolis
July 5, 2013
Minneapolis welcomed Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ian McLagan on Friday for his first ever appearance in the Twin Cities as a solo artist. "Mac" made note of Minneapolis's warm welcome after his leadoff tune "Hello Old Friend," a tribute to his fallen Faces/Small Faces band mate Ronnie Lane.
The Belmore/New Skyway Lounge recently began hosting intimate music events. It was a perfect setting for McLagan's pub-infused storytelling and musical performance. McLagan sang and played piano and was joined on and off throughout the evening by his regular bassist Jon Notarthomas. The set included McLagan originals from his Austin-based Bump Band as well numbers from his former groups the Faces and the Small Faces. He prefaced the second song of the night "Been a Long Time" as a love song to his hometowns of London and Austin.
The night was about storytelling as much as it was about music. Names were dropped, including Paul McCartney, Small Faces singer Steve Marriott, former manager Don Arden, Faces bandmates Ronnie Wood, Ronnie Lane and Kenny Jones, but never once any mention of Faces lead singer Rod Stewart.
Photo by Steve Cohen
There was talk between the audience and performer of the final Faces concert (which happened in Minneapolis on November 1, 1975 at the now demolished Minneapolis Auditorium) and how exactly 10 years before, on November 1, 1965 Small Faces manager Don Arden gave McLagan his big break with an opportunity to join the promising young London band as keyboardist and vocalist. Mac knew he'd found his brothers in Marriott, Lane and Jones.
Taking a drink to quench his thirst between songs, McLagan noted that he'd recently seen Paul McCartney put on a three-hour concert in Austin, and McCartney didn't stop to take a drink once. Mac's next tune "Sha La La La La" featured a vocal reminiscent of McCartney.
About newer bands, McLagan also had an opinion. He recounted how when the Faces and the Small Faces were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, Green Day opened the show. "They're fucking useless," he said. "I wanted to shoot the fuckers."
Photo by Steve Cohen
Minneapolis's own Replacements also made for a good story. Mac heard that the 'Mats were big fans of the Faces, so when he had an opportunity to meet the group backstage at the Palladium in L.A. he got all cleaned up to make a good impression. When he got backstage the band appeared to be chemically out of their minds and looked like they'd been rolling around in grime. Paul Westerberg asked McLagan if he wanted to sit in with the group. Mac asked, "Do you have a piano?" They didn't, which answered that question.
There was another encounter a few years later when McLagan was scheduled to play a session on Westerberg's solo debut 14 Songs. Mac had spent the night before drinking and didn't get to bed until dawn. Awoken with little sleep and still drunk he made his way to the noon recording session to find that this time Paul was Mr. Clean and completely sober -- while McLagan, somewhere between drunk and hungover managed to still deliver the goods.
Near the end of the regular set the Faces classic "Glad & Sorry" was played to an exuberant audience. Several people I talked to considered it a highlight of the evening. At the end of the set, in such an intimate room, there was no place for the performers to go before the encore, so they symbolically left the stage, only to come right back for the final two songs. Then came "Debris," a solo era Ronnie Lane number about his father's experience in bombed out East London, and the final song "You're So Rude," which Mac shared was written by Lane around a pump organ part that McLagan had composed.
The DNA of the Faces lives proudly in current work of Ian McLagan, keeping that band's spirit alive more than any of his other mates' current bands. Hopefully McLagan and the full Bump Band will have opportunity to make their way to the Twin Cities in the future. Until that day, there's always the band's gig every Thursday at the Lucky Lounge in Austin.
The Crowd: A mixed age group, some of whom had attended at The Faces 1975 concert in Minneapolis. Some of whom weren't even born until after The Faces broke up.
Random Notebook Highlight: About Ronnie Lane, "If we play his songs, he lives."
Hello Old Friend
Been A Long Time
Little Black Number
Never Say Never Again
I'm Your Baby Now
Mean Old World
Get Yourself Together (Small Faces - Ronnie Lane/Steve Marriott)
Don't Say Nothing At All
I'm Hot, You're Cool
Sha La La La La
An Innocent Man
Glad & Sorry (The Faces - Ronnie Lane/Ron Wood)
I Will Follow
Debris (Ronnie Lane)
You're So Rude (The Faces - Ian McLagan/Ronnie Lane)
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