LIVE: Ian McLagan @ The Linda, 10/21/14
Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, Gene Sennes
“These bum notes you hear tonight will be different tomorrow night,” quipped Ian McLagan to a room full of fans at The Linda on a recent Monday night. Only a musician of his caliber, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, could find fault with his own performance midway through one of the best concerts in Nippertown this year.
Accompanied by Jon Notarthomas on bass, occasional guitar and harmony vocals, McLagan embraced his illustrious past with the Small Faces and the Faces while offering generous helpings from his fecund solo career. Standing behind his keyboard – the man just never sits down – he was a rocking raconteur, singing and storytelling with the raspy vigor of someone who has had a real good time despite the vicissitudes of crooked managers (“We made peace with Andrew Loog Oldham, but not the late Don Arden – so fuck ‘im!!”) and mercurial lead singers (“Rod Stewart hated the key, so Ronnie Wood chose to sing it”). He gave shout-outs to his adopted hometown (“Come to Austin! Come to the Lucky Lounge!” “), offered a hilarious substitute curse for when children are in the audience (“Gwyneth Paltrow! It makes me feel rather good just saying her name!”), spoke with great wit and love about his Irish relatives, and railed quite compellingly against the scam against musicians that is Spotify and the woeful sonic inadequacies of MP3s.
The spirit of the late Ronnie Lane was very much on McLagan’s mind in the opening barrelhouse ballad “Hello Old Friend” and throughout the night in classics by the Faces such as the tender “Cindy Incidentally,” bawdy date-night-goes-wrong “You’re So Rude,” ode to belated wisdom “Ooh La La” and wistful “Glad and Sorry.” Likewise, Steve Marriott – “one of the greatest vocalists in life!” – was invoked on the perfect pop song, a Small Faces b-side from 1966 no less, “Get Yourself Together.”
Yet equally impressive were several songs from McLagan’s recent album, United States (Yep Roc). “Shalala” had an impressive Latin beat and hard scrabble lyrics; “All I Wanna Do” featured McLagan’s trademark Wurlitzer sound and Notarthomas’s lead bass lines, a song one could imagine Toni Price tackling sometime in the future. The themes of humility and second chances informed “Don’t Say Nothing,” marked by an ornate piano intro and brimming with melodies that called to mind Ronnie Lane and Paul McCartney.
“Yes, the Faces are going to reunite in 2015,” McLagan announced prior to a solo rendition of “Mean Old World,” arguably the centerpiece song from the new album. “I’m Your Baby Now” mixed jazz and blues perfectly with an understated vocal; though he didn’t mention her by name, it was obvious the song was about McLagan’s beloved late wife, Kim.
For an encore, the Faces’ 1972 classic “Debris” was hard to top. McLagan spoke of how Ronnie Lane had written the song in memory of his working-class father in post-WWII London. I bet there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience after the fading of the bass and Wurlitzer.
After the show, McLagan and Notarthomas stayed for well over an hour at the merchandise table to meet fans for autographs and photos and raise a glass of Guinness.
NOTE: Look for Ian McLagan’s return to Albany at 8pm on Friday, Decemeber 19 at “>The Egg for a one-of-a-kind holiday show with his labelmates Nick Lowe and Los Straitjackets.
IAN McLAGAN SET LIST
Hello Old Friend
It’s Been a Long Time
All I Wanna Do
Don’t Say Nothing
Cindy Incidentally (The Faces)
Mean Old World
An Innocent Man
You’re So Rude (The Faces)
Never Say Never
Get Yourself Together (The Small Faces)
Ooh La La (The Faces)
Glad and Sorry (The Faces)
I’m Your Baby Now
Debris (The Faces)