Tuesday 18 April 2023

Tom Hingley / Ian Britt / Mancunia - Stockport Bask - 16th April 2023

Tom Hingley played an intimate acoustic set mainly comprising hit singles from his time fronting Inspiral Carpets at Bask in Stockport on Sunday night. Support came from Ian Britt and Mancunia.

Mancunia open up proceedings and the duo of Nancy on vocals and Jim on acoustic guitar perform an impressive set of mostly covers, but delivered in their own style. Their take on Joy Division's Transmission is particularly impressive, Jim lost and focused in his intricate guitar playing while Nancy's soft expressive voice really shines the song in a very different light to the original. We're not usually fans of covers, but when someone takes one and transforms the song like this it can really quite special. Other covers such as Billie Holliday's My Blue Heaven, Mindy Smith's Come To Jesus and the final Simply The Best by Tina Turner see Nancy explain the reason behind the covers and why the songs are special to her. There's also an original I Don't Want Anything More that's good enough to suggest that covers might get replaced over time with more original material.

Ian Britt is joined for a couple of songs by Pete Marshall on violin, who describes them as Buzzkill And The Vibe Destroyer, and whilst Ian's songs, and his between song chat, might delve into dark spaces of the mind, he doesn't bring the mood of the evening down. His songs are intense, written about personal experiences and challenges, particularly around mental health, both his and others, as a means of expressing something that's harder to do with just words and talking. He plays Roll With The Tide and Elevate from last year's album The Great Unspoken as well as opening with Dedicate from his 2007 EP Big Light and Crazy Jane from his 2011 album Box to a warm response.

With Inspiral Carpets touring and playing a set of songs that were mostly not sung on the albums by their current front man Stephen, the only way to hear them sung by the songs original singer is to watch Tom. He strips them down to acoustic versions which gives the songs a new personality in many cases given the music's heavy reliance on the organ sound and the tightness of the rhythm section, none of which are present when it's just one man with a guitar. Plenty of people will sit one side of the fence or the other, but the best place right now is perched up there and able to see and hear both.

The set is pretty much an Inspiral Carpets greatest hits, but reimagined for just an acoustic guitar which gives a different perspective on the songs, both in the way Tom plays the acoustic guitar and puts his own spin on them and the way in which his voice has changed over time and he's adapted it for the stripped down format in which he's playing these big hits. 

The audience are very receptive and appreciative and, in the most part, respectful of Tom's request at the start to shut up and listen. There's dry humour between songs, joking he would sing the songs in Belgian, complimenting Stockport on its lovely car park and tolerating repeated drunken shouts for Uniform, a song he tells us he's not played for so long that he'd need to practice it again before playing it, with a smile on his face even though it became a bit tiresome for the rest of us. 

Most of the Inspirals big hits are all present and correct - This Is How It Feels, She Comes In The Fall, Move, Joe, Dragging Me Down (which gets a little bit of Grease merged in), Find Out Why (which has a verse and chorus changed to the 8.15 From Manchester kids' TV theme that was based on it), Saturn 5, Two Worlds Collide, Bitches Brew as well as the Life-era classics Sackville and Directing Traffic. Tom also plays a solo track, the impressive Leaving It All Behind from his 2013 album Sand, Angela taken from his recent collaboration with Gordon Mackay under the name Mackay Hingley as well as a cover of Wild Is The Wind which has been recorded by the likes of Johnny Mathis, Nina Simeone and David Bowie over the years.

The depth and richness in his voice, which prompted former Inspirals bandmate Clint Boon to call him "the best vocalist in Manchester" at the time of their heyday, is still very much present even though age and playing these songs repeatedly for three decades has changed exactly how they sound.

Tom Hingley's official website can be found here.  He is also on Facebook and Twitter

Ian Britt is on Facebook and Twitter.

Mancunia are on Facebook.


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