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Freebass - York Duchess - May 31st 2010 (LIVE REVIEW)

Tuesday, 01 June 2010 Written by Adam Simpson
Freebass - York Duchess - May 31st 2010 (LIVE REVIEW)

It is not very often you get to see artists from several great groups perform together; normally such things are reserved for occasions such as band aid, but not so with Freebass. Three of possibly the most influential bass players, from arguably some of the most influential UK groups, spanning over 3 decades of post punk, indie, electro and dance are combined in this bass lovers, super group.

Peter Hook “Hooky”, most notably of the unforgettable Joy Division and hugely successful New Order, as well as Revenge and Monaco, Gary Mounfield “Mani” of the great Stone Roses and Primal Scream and Andy Rourke of 80’s rock giants The Smiths. Three bass players with a wonderful collection of works between them all linked by the city of Manchester, The infamous Hacienda night club and the “Madchester” revolution, which they all in their own way, laid the foundations for.

After 5 years of initially forming the idea, the group have finally released an EP, titled, 'Two Worlds Collide' and an LP, 'Its A Beautiful Life'. The group have also teamed up with a lead vocalist in the shape of Garry Briggs of Haven and The Strays as they finally set off on the road for a 6 day tour of the UK, starting tonight at The Duchess in York.

There is obviously much expectation from a group, who have all played their part in such tracks as 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', 'Blue Monday', 'Fools Gold' and 'This Charming Man', to name, but a few, so how will these Manchester giants perform? Well let's find out...

The only disappointment to the evening was that Andy Rourke could not be with the group as he was in New York. Mani played flawless low bass with both plectrum and fingers during the gig, setting an upbeat, quick tempo rhythm for the band to rock too. Hooky’s familiar high sporadic bass lines were as much of a joy to watch as to hear as he rolled back the years and played as well as he ever has with his octaving pieces right down the neck of his six string bass. The group used loads of analogue pedals and pre amps, which gave the bass a classic, warm, alive sound and it was a joy to see hardly any digital systems in place, apart from those used by the keyboard section, which sampled enough to add a depth to the overall sound, without removing any quality or realism from the live set. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night though was Gary Briggs awesome live voice; the guy rocked and complimented the excellent musical talent on show really, really well. The guys played a blinder in recruiting him.

It was not a new or revolutionary sound, but it was their sound and it was delicious, no two tracks were too alike and after hearing how little time the group have spent together, I could not believe how tight they were. It is one thing putting tracks together in a studio, but performing them live is another and in that department they were flawless, showing just why they are old pros, still going strong.

The set was short, but enough, it left you wanting more but did not leave you disappointed either, there was little talk between numbers, enough to rouse the small but intimate crowd in the lovely little York venue, but not too much either.

In an interview with the band earlier Mani said that this venture was all about having fun, well that was definitely clear as the band rocked, without a single bum note, the only fault was when Mani needed a 2 second rehearsal with the drummer to check he knew the bass line, but that did nothing but rouse a giggle from the crowd and certainly did not hurt.

During the interview the group also stated that this was the first time any of them had ever played out and out pop, but I cannot disagree any more, live at least, they rocked, with awesome vocals, lovely rich bass and heavy guitar riffs, it was fantastic, the group also spoke of their aim to create a new sound with very subtle influences from each of their previous groups, that was definitely evident, there was Hooks fantastic “New Order” bass riffs and Mani’s upbeat “Roses” bass rhythm, but they achieved what they set out to do in creating a sound, rather than copying or adapting one.

Live this group where brilliant, they played a small venue very, very well indeed. They looked assured, played without a glitch and the vocals were very good . They entertained and duly impressed.

I hope they tour more and produce more studio material. My rating based on tonight’s viewing. A very strong 7/10.

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