November 23, 2004

CHEERS, MATE

Ian McLagan.jpg

Ex-Face Ian McLagan doing fine as a bandleader

Ian McLagan and the Bump Band
Maxwell's -- Hoboken, N.J.
Nov. 16, 2004

Legendary for their booze-fueled bliss, The Faces were so determined to keep the good times --and spirits -- flowing that they would even set up their own bar onstage.

Some 30 years later, the influential British band's ace pianist-organist, Ian McLagan (also a founding member of the Faces precursor, Small Faces) is a regular at the pub; he and his Bump Band even hold down a weekly happy hour gig in Austin, Texas, near his home. So, with both a new album (Rise & Shine!, on Gaff Music) and a Faces boxed set (the fittingly named Five Guys Walk Into a Bar . . ., which he assembled) to promote, McLagan and his band took their show on the road this month for a short tour of -- what else? -- barrooms.

Judging by his performance, the bar is where McLagan -- sporting a rooster-style cut, but not spiked as high as those that old band mates Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood have worn more famously -- still has the time of his life. It had little to do with his intake, though; he sipped tea in between songs for most of the nearly two-hour set to soothe a sore throat. Although he made it clear he'd have preferred to be drinking something stronger, McLagan showed no ill effects. And for a player who mostly has been a hired-gun session man for the past couple of decades, he was a more than able vocalist. Between self-effacing quips like "I'm such a twerp," his deft command of the keys drove the band through select favorites from his past and much of his promising new disc.

The crowd of 100 gladly soaked in the handful of classics McLagan offered. The Faces' "Glad and Sorry" -- co-written by McLagan and his late friend and band mate Ronnie Lane, the tune's original singer -- retained its warmth and closed with an elegant guitar break from "Scrappy" Jud Newcomb. The swaggering "You're So Rude," an early set highlight, and "Cindy Incidentally" -- with a bit more kick than the studio version -- also were greeted with hearty approval, and McLagan's show-stopping organ brought spark to the Small Faces' "Get Yourself Together."

The strongest of McLagan's newer material also proved worthy. "You're My Girl" was a buoyant riff-laden rocker, while "Date With an Angel" and "Your Secret" exposed his tender side as a songwriter. McLagan's wit shone through on tracks like "The Wrong Direction" ("As God as my witness/I'm high on his hit list today") and "She Ain't My Girl," where it was not clear if he was bemoaning or boasting that his lover "gets drunk anytime she wishes."

Then again, maybe the answer was evident in the way McLagan beamed at the full pint glass in his left hand late in the set, cheerfully announcing to the crowd that it was "Guinness time" at last. Even if he was never the voice or face of The Faces, this night out at the bar was a vivid reminder of a career worth toasting.

-- By George Henn

Posted by medleyville at November 23, 2004 11:23 PM
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