The multi-tracked whispered refrain of “be quiet, big boys don’t cry” reverberating around the classically shaped internal dome of the Royal Albert Hall probably transported most of tonight’s middle-aged sold-out audience back to their youthful salad days of the mid-70s when I’m Not In Love topped the UK charts for two weeks – yet seemed to linger for much longer in the minds of most of the assembled psychic jukebox’s – and was the final smooch song of the night at UK discos up and down this green and pleasant land.
In fact, this now Stewart/Gouldman seminal song had a very troubled birth and was almost ditched by the band until Kevin Godley suggested the multi-tracking of vocals and the rest, as they say, is history. And history is what founding and only original surviving member Graham Gouldman is lovingly curating with his ongoing 10cc tours of the artful, mind-expanding, progressive and quirky popular songs that this best of British band created.
Tonight’s thrilling performance was, in fact, a first-hand demonstration of the art of songcraft. Having in their arsenal an impressive songwriting range encompassing the cerebrally surreal, kitsch wit and epic art-prog rock, as opening big hitters Wall Street Shuffle and Art for Art’s Sake revealed.
This followed an on-screen projected film of Neanderthal Man directed by former band experimentalist extraordinaire Kevin Godley. Later in the show, Godley re-joined the band, from the backstage projection, to sing Somewhere In Hollywood as the band played from the front.
An envious back catalogue, that whilst containing even more memorable back in the day Top 40 hits such The Things We Do For Love and Good Morning Judge, was expanded upon by the epic cinematic musical narrative of I’m Mandy, Fly Me or the neurotic notation of Clockwork Creep – a first-person narrative song about a bomb on a plane – and the awesome art-prog graphic detail of Feel The Benefit.
Playing tunes as sophisticated and detailed as tonight’s set-list requires musicians of very high calibre, who can interchange with
instrumentation and harmonise vocals to pull off these exquisite studio productions and Gouldman has assembled a stellar cast of fellow players.
Joining him are band stalwarts guitarist Rick Fenn and drummer Paul Burgess – both have been in the 10cc live band since the 70s – Keith Clayman on keyboards and guitars and most impressively multi-instrumentalist and vertiginous vocalist Iain Hornall who, whilst busying himself between guitars, percussion and vocal duties, unveiled new 10cc song Say The Word, co-written with Gouldman, which slotted in seamlessly with the monumental music of this grand art-rock northern band.
The two back to back epic compositions I’m Not In Love and I’m Mandy, Fly Me preceded tongue firmly in cheek cod reggae Number 1 hit set closer Dreadlock Holiday. A three-song set closer whose broad sweep of entrancing songcraft harked back to a glorious era of boundless musical possibilities.
And as if that wasn’t enough, an encore including an amusing acapella take by all members on Donna and a rabble-rousing rendering of their first Number 1 hit Rubber Bullets shot out of the slightly iffy sound-mix to fire everyone out of the doors to, in the words of Mandy, reflect: “Just like a rollin’ stone. I’m outside lookin’ in” on a show that was at times breathtaking between the collective gulps for air.
Event Date: 02-May-2019