10cc, Paul Canning

Written by ant-rocks     May 13, 2022    
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The joy produced by revisiting these timeless classics certainly warmed the heart of many

Bath: The Forum – April 1st 2022

The first of April is renowned for trickery, but on this cold Spring night, there was none of that to be found and thankfully so. It was fantastic to once again be stepping inside the beautiful interior of The Forum, Bath, to see one of the most successful and musically diverse groups of the seventies; 10cc.

Finding my place in the lower stalls of the half-empty auditorium, I was lucky enough to have been allocated a seat near the rear row. I had a clear view of the well-lit stage, adorned with multiple acoustic and electric guitars and basses. Keyboards were situated at the rear of stage right and drums at the rear of stage left with a singular wooden stool behind the centre mic stand. In the vast area between the drums and keyboards was a huge L.E.D. screen that reached the top of the stage ceiling. Shortly after settling, the lights dimmed, and a single white spotlight shone over the centre microphone and the empty stool. The lone figure of support act Paul Canning, a singer/songwriter from London, graced the stage. He has two solo albums under his belt and is no stranger to the big stage. He has performed the role of John Lennon in the Beatles show 'Let It Be' and occasionally stepped in as the lead vocalist for 10cc when required.

Canning took his position at the centre of the stage and picked up his electro-acoustic guitar, which had some technical issues. At this point, he cajoled the crowd with the threat of using one of the headline bands', which received a few boos. Instead, he swapped out the faulty guitar with another, possibly one of the 10cc guitars. After checking this instrument worked, Canning confidently kicked off his set with 'Yesterday's News'. Following this, he performed tracks from his repertoire that are evidently heavily influenced by The Beatles, Billy Joel and Elton John. The Beatles vibe was evident in 'Cry A Little', which despite its title, was rather jolly. 'Jiggerpokery', the title track from his 2019 release, was very much in the vein of Elton John. The solemn 'Kid' lyrically takes us back to a time of being a child before the tempo was raised with the title track 'Bandwagon' that showed his prowess in the Country Rock genre. Previously Canning had informed us that he recorded the full-length album 'Bandwagon' (2020) with 10cc's Graham Gouldman, that is currently Canning's number one selling album on iTunes. He had previously asked Gouldman to accompany him to perform this track during his set, but the bassist declined. After the last note of 'Bandwagon' rang out, Canning retold a story of how 10cc was touring the U.S. in the seventies, and the compere announced them as. I.O.C.C., which brought forth merriment from the onlookers. For saying he showed some nerves when initially hitting the stage, Canning had certainly gained confidence and the audience's attention with his smooth and well-delivered performance. This appreciation was demonstrated when thanking the audience who produced whistles and a huge round of applause in response.

A quick break gave time for late arrivals to find their places and for those who had sat through the first set to grab their beverages. The aisles between the three blocks of seats became a sea of tightly packed people vying impatiently to get to their locations. On certain occasions, you could see the frustration on the faces of some who were hurriedly scurrying to their desired destinations. After twenty minutes, the flow had calmed to singular attendees who were struggling to find their seats and once found, were disrupting those who were sat in theirs keenly waiting for the headline act to start. The auditorium lights dimmed again to a huge cheer, and the huge L.E.D. screen burst into action with images of apes whose mouths were synchronising the words to 10cc's 'Neanderthal Man'. The seated onlookers burst into a mixture of laughter and song, and when the early images of the original line-up appeared, applause burst from eager groups that were obvious long-term followers. Already the air was full of excitement and expectation, and it was hard not to get drawn into these emotions. I have never seen the band live; however, I was aware of a few of their renowned tracks and their name, so when I saw they were touring locally to me, I had to check it out.

Originally started by Eric Stewart, Lol Creme, Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldman in 1972, they all had ties to the Mindbenders and Strawberry Studios before forming 10cc. The Stockport borne band has seen many trials and tribulations through their successful career. In 1976, the friction between the members became too much and Godley and Creme split from Stewart and Gouldman due to creative differences. Following the split, Gouldman and Stewart continued under the 10cc banner and joined forces with drummer Paul Burgess. 1977 saw guitarist Rick Fenn and keyboardist Tony O'Malley joining Goulding and Stewart for an international tour and accompanying release 'Live And Let Live'.

Further setbacks followed when Stewart was seriously injured in a car crash. The band went into a hiatus, with various members focusing on other projects. In 1991, the original line-up was reformed and recorded 'Meanwhile' (1992). With most of the tracks being written by Stewart and Gouldman, Creme and Godley agreed to appear on the album to fulfil contractual obligations with their record company. In 1995, 'Mirror, Mirror' was recorded without participation from Godley and Creme and with one track proving to be a hit, the rest of the album was not. During this time, Stewart left, leaving Gouldman as the only original member in place. This overview of the band's history brings us to the present day, where 10cc is still touring with Gouldman at the helm. Throughout this turmoil, 10cc produced a vast number of Art Rock, Pop and Progressive Rock hits that are still relevant and aired today. Tonight's gig was a celebration of the band's greatest tracks. From the murmuring of the attendees, it was much anticipated.

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So, back to the show. The myriad images of apes and historic line-up for 'Neanderthal Man' concluded, and Gouldman (bass, lead vocals, rhythm guitar) accompanied by long-time member Paul Burgess (drums, percussion and backing vocals), guitarist Rick Fenn (lead & rhythm guitar, backing & lead vocals and bass), Keith Hayman (keyboards, bass, backing vocals) and newcomer Iain Hornal taking the place of lead vocals. I'm guessing you could refer to this as a 10cc tribute band with Gouldman as the only original member; however, the eager audience was not deterred by this.

I must admit that I was aware of the tracks; having heard them on mainstream radio on multiple occasions but was unable to confidently associate them with a particular band. They started with the zany 'Life Is A Minestrone'. From then on, it was a show of wonders, especially when each member showed their multi-instrumentalist skills, jumping from piano to bass, guitar to keyboards, and their individual vocal prowess. This alone was worth seeing, but all members' polished stagecraft and expert musicianship was just a joy to behold. The tracks are full of tempo changes, complex chords, and a myriad of genre changes with each.

The funky 'Good Morning Judge' saw Hayman move from behind the piano and pick up the bass. Incidentally, this track "was filmed 45 years ago" Gouldman informed us. Next up was 'The Dean And I' and 'Old Wild Men', the latter saw Burgess move from the drums to the keys. In each song, Gouldman gave credit to their respective writers in a very positive manner, whether it was Stewart, Godley or Creme, and this was certainly appreciated by the crowd. 'Clockwork Creep', which is a quirky dialogue between a bomb and plane, saw Fenn taking the lyrical place of the bomb and Hornal as the plane. With all manner of arm movements, facial gestures and bodily movements, this was a crowd-pleaser and drew forth much laughter. Next up was the epic ten minute long 'Feel The Benefit' with parts one to three played in their entirety. Midway through, Fenn showed his finesse through a fantastic solo before the full band came together until the end. Taking its name from a famous New York street in the financial district, the groovy 'Wall Street Shuffle' had the audience dancing in their seats. Huge applause erupted with some individuals standing to show their appreciation when it finished. At this point, the set took a turn, and Gouldman took this time to air one of his most recent solo tracks, 'Modesty Forbids', which reflects the time when he shared the stage with Ringo Starr as part of his All-Star band.

Before moving on to the rest of the show, I must add that Hornal stepped up to the mark with his incredible vocal range and versatility. He seemed so at ease on stage, interacting with other members and fluently singing the multi-part harmonies. So, when one of Hornal's new tracks, 'Fly Away Home' (co-written by him and Gouldman) followed 'The Things We Do For Love', he was given the freedom to fully demonstrate his skills. The 10cc hits and tales from Gouldman kept flowing, and 'Silly Love' saw the band members performing comedic acts to each other whilst they were playing. Following this, we were treated to more visualisations from the L.E.D. screen, this time Kevin Godley in black and white, and with images of flurrying hands loomed down at us. The stage itself plunged into darkness, and a smooth instrumental piece was being played by the band. Once the lyrics kicked in for 'Somewhere In Hollywood', the members sang in synchronicity with Kevin to dramatic effect. Drum driven 'Baron Samedi' and its tribal beat had the crowd up and dancing in their seats and whooping with glee before the stage plunged into dimness. The screen now had an image of the back of an auburn woman's hair flowing, and one of the band's more famed tracks, 'I'm Not In Love', had the crowd emanating deafening cheers and singing along passionately, which ended the set for the band who left the stage. Chants of the band's name and deafening applause now filled the air for at least the next five minutes before they came back on.

Reggae musical notes hit the air, and the crowd went wild. "I don't like cricket, I love it", opened 'Dreadlock Holiday'. Gouldman invited the audience to join in, but no encouragement was needed. They were already there, gleefully singing, clapping in time to the beat and dancing. Upon its end, the band received a standing ovation. A surprise came with the Zappa inspired track 'Donna', where Gouldman, Hayman, Fenn and Hornal came together around the centre microphone singing a cappella, bobbing up and down finger-clicking the beat. To end this joyous and extremely enjoyable night came 'Rubber Bullets'. Not one person from the audience was sat in their seat as they wholeheartedly belted out the lyrics louder than the band. Gouldman thanked us all with a final bow with his fellow members, they walked off to another five-minute standing ovation. The joy produced by revisiting these timeless classics certainly warmed the heart of many who left the venue full of smiles and gleefully relived the occasion with their fellow admirers.

Sonia Cavill

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