Posted on 19th May 2012

Earlier this month, on the 5th May 2012, The Paul Menel Band, stripped down to Paul and Steve, together with special guest Martin Orford, provide support to Pendragon at The Assembly in Leamington Spa. They may have been the supporting band, with an early time slot, but word had got out that doors were opening early, as nearly half the venue was full by the time the guys took to the stage. A great turn out, as even the Assembly staff noted.

Paul and Martin came on stage first for a rousing rendition of the Piano/Vocal Version of No Love Lost. A great start to the set, and got everybody eagerly awaiting the other delights from the Nomzamo 25 Years Anniversary Tour. This tour was a celebration of the release of Nomzamo, the album Paul and Martin first joined forces on, when they were in IQ back in 1987. 25 years later, the songs are as classic as they were back in 1987. Paul then welcomed Steve to join the two on stage. The Nomzamo set then continued with one of the best live performances of Promises (a personal favourite) and Nomzamo, the title track of the album.

To break the set up, the band added a few surprises throughout the set. The first surprise was a track from Martin's latest solo album, The Old Road, with Paul and Steve doing a fantastic job of Ray Of Hope. Common Ground began with Steve sitting on the floor with the acoustic guitar, having forgotten to arrange to have a stool on stage, and ended with some great electric guitar fret work, much to the appreciation of the audience. The next surprise, of sorts, was the Paul Menel Band song She's Up On The Chair Again, taken from the forthcoming album. Then on to the final song from the Nomzamo part of the set, Still Life, with yet more amazing guitar solos from Steve.

As so to the final song of the night. Although I knew ahead of the set what it would be, I hadn't seen the rehearsals, so wasn't quite expecting the result. As Steve stepped forward to the mic I was just expecting some backing vocals, and was just as surprised and impressed as everyone else when he took on the Roger Waters vocals for Comfortably Numb. Paul and Martin handled Dave Gilmour's vocals to great effect too. It was an unusual song for the set, but an absolute delight too.

Seeing Martin on stage again after so many years, was great, to see him playing and singing was fantastic, to see that he and Paul sounded as good as they did 25 years ago, if not better, was a joy. The following weekend they repeated the performance at De Boerderij, Zoetermeer, Holland, to just as much applause. Hopefully, this won't be the last time we see Paul and Martin on stage together, as there is already talk of an Are You Sitting Comfortably 25 Years Anniversary Tour in 2014 :)

If you missed the gig, fear not we recorded the whole event, and you can now watch the full set on YouTube. You can either watch via the playlist, or by clicking the links below to view the individual song performances:

Photos coming soon.

File Under: gigs / menel / music

Sold On You

Posted on 27th November 2011

Two weekends ago, The Paul Menel Band played their first gig with their new line-up. Debbie Saunders joins the band on sax, and adds that soulful sound back into the mix.

The venue, The Marr's Bar in Worcester was a great little club, and I hope I get to see more gigs there. It's only downside was the fact that it is typically an 18s and over type venue, due to licensing, and as a consequence there is a large young audience in the town that aren't able to get in to see gigs. This is a shame as I think we should be encouraging a younger audience to live gigs, as so many venues have closed due to lack of attendance. Hopefully The Marr's Bar doesn't suffer the same fate.

The gig itself was brilliant as always. Due to a late cancellation of the support act, Paul's son Luke Menel stepped in and provided us with a stunning performance of various acoustic indie tracks. Considering his age, Luke is truly a star in the making, and it will be great to see his musical career progress.

Being a small venue, the band's energy was bursting at the seems, and you could tell everyone was enjoying themselves. Several times during the set, Steve Harris looked lost in his only little world with licks flying along the fret board. Steve Swift, Bill Devey and Ian Diment all deftly locked the band into the groove and allowed Debbie, Dr Steve and Paul to soar, as they did often.

During Under Your Wing, Paul brought Luke back on stage to add backing vocals as he does on the forthcoming album, Three Sides to Every Story. The song itself is a very personal song for both Paul and Luke, so it was great to see them both taking centre stage. Tonight was a great showcase for the band, and hopefully some videos from tonight will eventually surface on YouTube as we had several different camera angles on the go.

In the meantime, collating my photos of the night we have the soundcheck, Luke's performance as well as the headliners.

Date: 12th November 2011
Venue: The Marr's Bar, Worcester

File Under: gigs / menel / photography

Walk In My Shoes

Posted on 15th April 2011

I first met Paul Menel back in 1985, when he joined IQ. It was at the old Marquee Club on Wardor Street in London, and ended up being a great night. Last year was the first time I'd seen him for several years, having hid himself away from the limelight. It was great news to hear he was back with a new band and a new album.

The album, Three Sides To Every Story, is awaiting release, although if you were at any of Paul's gigs earlier this year, you hopefully bought one of the 5-track samplers. The new band has been working on the songs, and since the original recordings, the live performances have taken on a life of their own.

Paul and the band will be supporting Khaliq next week at the O2 Academy Birmingham on Friday 22nd April, and have busy rehearsing for the gig. With the departure of John Jowitt, the band have been breaking in new boy Steve Swift to the new live set. With the Khaliq gig being a support slot, the set will maiinly focus on the forthcoming album, but they'll still be something to keep the iQ fans interested too.

The rehearsals themselves went really well, with smiles all round by the end of the night. It was also great to hear Luke guesting on backing vocals, as he did on the original recordings :)

After looking back through the photos, I really am going to have a start a photo collection entitled 'The Many Faces of Bill Devey'. I used to think it was only guitarists that practised gurning during guitar solos, but Bill was putting every guitarist to shame the other night ;)

Expect more photos from the gig after next week.

File Under: gigs / menel / music

Promises (As The Years Go By)

Posted on 30th January 2011

On the 14th November 1985 I went along to The Marquee on Wardor Street in London to see the first gig by IQ with their new singer. I had been there 4 months earlier to witness Peter's last gig (at the time) with the band, so like everyone else was keen to see what the future held for the band.

Having got to know the band and crew very well, I got there early and was fortunate enough to be in the club helping Lol focus the lamps when Paul Menel appeared. Doubtless all the introductions washed over Paul, but he and the fans got to know each other well over subsequent years. After 2 successful albums,  and bigger success in Europe for IQ, in 1989 Paul decided to move on. After an initial release of 'Freedom', also featuring Tim Esau, things went quite for several years.

Then in 2010 after some chance meetings, Paul started to pull together a new band, and started writing songs that would be recorded for his forthcoming album, Three Sides To Every Story. With John Jowitt and Steve Harris, both recently of arK fame, recruited into the band, they began rehearsals for a short mini tour.

The first gig at The Peel in Kingston upon Thames, took place on 29th January 2011. It was a great night and it was worth the wait to see Paul back on form again. Playing songs from his time with IQ, as well as several new songs, the band were having a great time, as were the audience. Playing for just under 2 hours, the fans were treated to some classic performances, including two versions of Sold On You, after the backing track in Promises played up in the encore. Surprise of the night was the rare performance of Colourflow, complete with a Dancing In The Dark moment of picking the girl from the audience to sing the duet with Paul.

The new songs fit well with the old songs, and several are a natural progression from the days of IQ. Personal favourite of the night, and on the album too, was Little Gorgeous Fool. Don't miss the band live if they're playing near you.

For more my photos of the gig: Paul Menel @ The Peel 29th Jan 2011

File Under: ark / gigs / iq / menel

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