It generally doesn’t matter how many times you see a band that has lasted over 40 years, as the fabulous 10cc have, or indeed how many guises and changes of membership that band have had. All that matters is the excellence that is dished up and, as ever, Graham Gouldman and his cohorts certainly know the meaning of excellence.
On previous occasions, the support has consisted of traditional up-and-comers warming up the audience prior to the main act taking over. More recently, Gouldman has entertained solo with acoustic renditions of a multitude of songs he has written for other bands such The Kinks and The Hollies.
Tonight the support – if that is in fact what it can be termed – saw the band give a complete recital of their 1973 album, Sheet Music, starting off with a thumping version of Wall Street Shuffle; the song which pretty much elevated the original band of Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Lol Cream and Kevin Godley beyond the ordinary and on towards the Planet Superstar.
Godley actually makes an appearance with the band, courtesy of the giant screens suspended at the rear of the stage, to sing along with Somewhere in Hollywood, which goes to show that although age may weary them, the heart of creation beats strong from within.
What is perhaps surprising about Sheet Music is that the songs all sound as fresh and quirky as they did back when originally released and thereby define the instantly recognisable warmth and humour with which 10cc would later become synonymous.
The Worst Band in the World still maintains its self-deprecating eccentricity, Hotel still points towards the mega Dreadlock Holiday of 1980 with little bits of Paul Simon’s Me & Julio Down in the School Yard thrown in, Clockwork Creep nods to I’m Mandy, Fly Me and Old Wild Men is still a work of poetic beauty. As a taster of what is to follow, Sheet Music is the ideal choice to “warm things up” nicely following the interval.
The glorious The Things We Do for Love, from Deceptive Bends, arguably the bands finest album and the first studio post Godley & Cream, is quickly followed by Good Morning Judge from the same disc and things are off and rocking. The eponymous Mandy is still rescuing fallen passengers, Life remains a Minestrone and Art is still For Art’s Sake. All is good and cool and balanced with the world, right up until the band urge the faithful to Feel The Benefit, when the globe becomes a place of musical heaven for a whole ten minutes.
What Mick Wilson on vocals and, importantly, Rick Fenn on electric guitar manage to achieve with this near-perfect concoction of blues, reggae, rock and jazz is almost beyond stupefying, particularly as the final section is kicked off with Gouldman ripping into a Bass riff filled with power and pathos and pure unadulterated finesse that, by its end, has we mere beer swilling mortals in the seats shouting their approval above Fenn’s heroics.
Now we’re cooking, as The Dean & I segues neatly and firmly into the classics I’m Not In Love – which is still, 40 years after it made #1, not quite grasped as being a juxtaposition of sentiment and is taken more literally than it should be … apparently – and the sublime Dreadlock Holiday.
The band troop off then troop back on, with still one final surprise: an a cappella version of the sumptuous Donna, before the night ends on a rockin’ high with an elongated, multi-instrument duelling blast that is Rubber Bullets.
Form is temporary: Class is permanent and if this ever needed quantifying, 10cc did so on the stage of The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in spades!
Age may not weary them … Thank God!!
The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
February 15th, 2015
PR Rating: **** Beautifully Beneficent