Maximum R&B with The Manfreds + guests

Maximum Rhythm & Blues - The Manfreds, PP Arnold & Zoot Money: Lighthouse, Poole

Oddly, given the title of this show, there really wasn’t a great deal of rhythmn and blues. The evening was largely a platform for mainly pop driven Manfreds in their many and varied forms. Working out the timeline and historic personnel who have been through the band(s) reveals a complex and musically incestuous story. 

Suffice to say many years ago they were the Mann-Hugg Blues Brothers, they morphed into sixties chart-busters Manfred Mann and then became simply The Manfreds. We could go off at all kinds of tangents from there but ,as a delighted crowd at Lighthouse discovered last night, it’s best just to sit back and enjoy the music, particular when the likes of PP Arnold and one-time local legend Zoot Money are special guests.

Impressively  the band is still sporting three original members (and I mean original) in lead vocalist Paul Jones, keyboards man Mike Hugg and guitarist Tom McGuinness. There’s also singer-songwriter Mike D’Abo who replaced Jones  as front man when he left the band in the mid sixties. Drummer Rob Townsend, who is Jones’ and McGuinness’s sometime colleague in The Blues Band;  bass player Marcus Cliffe and saxophonist Simon Currie complete the line-up.

Their music offers an extraordinary and instantly nostalgic journey back to their heyday half a century ago. Many in the audience will have been recalling their weekly residency at the basement Disque a Go Go club at the Lansdowne.  They stormed through a welter of hits - 5-4-3-2-1, Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Fox on the Run, Ha Ha Said The Clown, Semi Detached Suburban Mr James, The Mighty Quinn, Pretty Flamingo and many more.

Next it was the turn of  the ever ebullient PP Arnold to deliver to of her two biggest numbers Angel of the Morning and The First Cut is the Deepest before  duetting with Zoot Money on It Takes Two. Zoot of course was another Disque a Go Go Veteran and a leading light on the Bournemouth scene before  heading for London with chums Andy Summers and Colin Allen and breezing into Soho with The Big Roll Band. Zoot, in fine fettle, gave us a taste of hisn inimitable style with It Never Rains But It Pours which he wrote for Jimmy Witherspoon and there was of course Big Time Operator and Bring It On Home To Me. Ironically it was The Manfreds who cranked the blues quota up to 11 with a blazing version of Howlin’ Wolf’s Smokestack Lightening.

 As always their stage act navigated a fine line between, blues, pop and R&B. There are many facets to their musical history like Mike D’Abo’s songwriting talents with numbers like Handbags and Gladrags and Build Me Up Buttercup and Tom McGuinness’s  stint in MacGuinness Flint and their mega-hit When I’m Dead and Gone. All got a joyous airing plus the band’s new version of Van Morrison’s Bright Side of the Road and much, much more before a final encore with a highly appropriate If You’ve Gotta Go Go Now.

Jeremy Miles


© Jeremy Miles 2022