Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown. Pictures courtesy of the artists.
Tonight’s band were at their people in the early mid 70s. What seems a million miles away, these guys brought artmusic to the fore, mixing genres and creative inspirations and giving the world a raft of iconic hits. 40 odd years on, in the luxurious Symphony Hall, we’re here to take a peek into 10cc’s hugely creative musical journey…
We’ve had the opportunity to review 10cc before. In 2015 we got to see them on their tour celebrating ‘Sheet Music’ alongside their greatest hits. So we look forward to tonight’s sold out gig with some expectation.
Support tonight comes from Iain Hornal, who takes to the stage to a big cheer from the crowd. “Alright you haven’t heard me yet….” he quips. Hornal is pretty experienced – he’s played on the world’s largest stages as a sideman with the likes of Jeff Lynne’s ELO and 10cc. Tonight he’s showcasing his talents as a lead vocalist and songwriter are equally impressive. He tells us he’s dropped the Iain. It’s dead weight. Before a near half hour set of his solo stuff from his new album ‘ The Game Begins With The Lights Out.’ He chatty and engaging encouraging the crowd to film him, pop the footage on Facebook or YouTube. But don’t film the 10cc set – or your seat will be set on fire. On his new album he’s brought his friends in – including The Feeling and Sophie Ellis Bextor. He was signing stuff after his set – with checking him out.
And now to tonight’s main act. Formed in the early 70s – this art-rock band hailed from Stockport. Initially there was four: Grahan Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. 10cc had ‘two sides’ the commercial songwriting team of Stewart and Goldman and the more experimental Godley and Creme. These multi-talented, multi-instrumentalists went on to have some massive hits: eleven Top 10’s, including three No 1s ‘Rubber Bullets’, ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, and ‘I’m Not In Love’, which has been played over five million times on US radio, it’s no surprise the band has sold 15 million albums in the UK alone.
Godley and Creme left way back in ’76, Stewart in the mid nineties. It’s Graham Gouldman, the ‘Governor’ who took on the 10cc and tours with Rick Fenn and Paul Burgess (both who joined after the departure of Goldey and Creme) and Mick Wilson and Mike Stevens.
Bang on 8.15, lights go down, music takes to the speakers giving time for any stragglers to take their seats. Cheers as the band take to the darkened stage….
Guitar riff and trademark harmonised vocals start as they mean to gone on with ‘Wall Street Shuffle’ – this multi-layered pop prog-rock. And then the over the top, ‘Arts for Arts Sake’ starting with a floating guitar intro, before the pop fest, and that bass beat – a single spotlight on each band member. The journey, a circle and ending with floating prog-rock guitars. The title – Gouldman’s dad used to say that. “Thanks dad.”
A car drive listening to the radio – they heard the the DJ say: ‘Life is a Minestrone.’ And into the song of said name. Sing along. You know you want to, to some of the more unusual lyrics. “Life is a minestrone, Served up with parmesan cheese, Death is a cold Lasagne, Suspended in deep freeze ….”
And another classic 10cc riff leads into ‘Good Morning Judge’ and then one of their personal favourites ‘The Dean and I’, leading off with the chant… “Hum drum days and a hum drum ways….Hum drum days and a hum drum ways….”
Roll back to 1973. The band we’re in their 20s. And writing their second album ‘Sheet Music’, imagining what it would be like doing this this in their 50s and 60s (quip and a cheer). Indeed all member of the band are in their 60s, with Gouldman nudging the big seven -o. ‘Old Wild Men’ in 10cc terms, is relatively simple and quiet beautiful.Next song, politically insensitive. It’s unlike anyone nowadays would write a track in quite this way. A dialogue between an airplane and a bomb. As you do. ‘Clockwork Creep’. Multilayered, complex and totally barmy…..clever clever.
And another instantly recognisable guitar riff; ‘Feel The Benefit’. Wilson showcasing just how many instruments can this multi-percussionist play in one song. And sing. At the same time. And the song rolls on and on – prog rock-psychedelia, gloriously over the top. 10 plus minutes easy. Few punters stand to acknowledge as it ends and huge cheers go round the hall. Write after Godley and Creme had left the band, it was taken from another parental anecdote. Gouldman’s mother used to say “…take your coat off son, or you won’t feel the benefit”. His mother still telling him what to do today at the ripe old age of 98.
And the hits keep coming ‘Things We Do For Love’, from ‘Sheet Music’ – ‘Silly Love.’ And then the single use of the screen tonight (tonight’s effects are done by creative use of stage lighting) Kevin Godley on screen and with vocals -‘Somewhere in Hollywood.’ Here very much in pixelated spirit.
Inspired by the Bond movie, ‘Live and Let Die’ – ‘Baron Samedi’, before the set darkens. And we sing. One of the things about 10cc, is that you know all the hits and the words. I was way off me teenage years when the band were at their peak – but even so, I know all the words to ‘I’m Mandy Fly Me.’ Competed with the Gouldman, Fenn and Wilson at the front of the stage a trio playing guitars guitars, playing the strumming riff that gets getting quieter and then a slow bow. The ste darkens one more, the lighting splits into twinkling shards, ‘I’m Not In Love.’ “Big boys don’t cry…” Beautifully spectacular.
After show they’re in foyer signing et al. They’ll sign absolutely anything as long as you pay for it! And from moody and atmospheric, it’s party and fun. We don’t like cricket. We love it.’Dreadlock Holiday.’
The encore starts off with ‘Ready to Go Home’, before their first single from 1972 with a twist. ‘Donna’ sung by the band accapella. Quirky and fun and clever. And an encouragement to stay on your feet and party, set complete with ‘Rubber Bullets.’
10cc. In some ways this really shouldn’t work: songs from four decades ago, only one remaining original band member. But, all five of the band are amazing musicians. Keith Hayman plays a long list of instruments. Mick Wilson. Ditto. Plus cow bell. Rick Fenn. Slightly lesser list. Paul Burgess has been drumming with them since 73. And then there’s the writer, the governor, Graham Gouldman. This is no retro tour – the whole band thoroughly enjoy their musical journey, this band of brothers are immensely well tight; a masterful performance that complex symphony orchestra’s would admire. 10cc were probably to a degree out of time, but their tracks are not outdated – and the love and care they continue to perform them, gives a truly impressive show. And tonight we have the luxury of one of the best venues in the country to showcase their music sound.
We didn’t like 10cc tonight. We loved them. Oh yeah.
Wall Street Shuffle
Arts for Arts Sake
Life is a Minestrone
Good Morning Judge
The Dean and I
Feel The Benefit
Things We Do For Love
Somewhere in Hollywood
I’m Mandy Fly Me
I’m Not In Love
Ready To Go Home