Gig report - Steve & Michael

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by matthewfoote, Mar 17, 2004.

  1. I had the privilage of seeing Steve and Michael at a clinic/gig in Exeter [UK] held at Mansons Guitar shop.

    I did a short report and posted a couple of photo's in the Misc. forum as I was not sure exactly where to put it. I am sure a Mod will correctly place it if I got it wrong.

    An excellent night and showed me how far I have to go on the instrument. Thanks guys :bassist:

    Not sure if it was an inspiration or just depressing ;)


  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Great - I'm going to the Troubadour show this coming Sunday evening and really looking foward to it. Last time I saw Steve and Michael together was at the Bass Centre and this time we've got John Lester thrown into the mix as well.

  3. Matt, what's the sorta format of it? Is it a Q&A thing, or a "concert" kinda affair?

    Either way, good luck with the rest of the tour you two!
  4. Our one in Exeter was a clinic/gig and very informal. We were encouraged to ask questions. I am not sure if other events will be as informal. We were allowed to take photos and as I say ask what we wanted between stunning music.

    It started with a couple of tunes then some Q & A and it sort of alternated between the music and the questions. Relaxed but structured in an informal sort of way.

    All in all very informative and inspirational.

    If you are going to one of the events then I know you will enjoy it. Both of the guys are great musicians and very friendly.


    Matthew :bassist:
  5. Yeah Matt, I'm going this Saturday.

    Thanks for the information!
  6. Well, after getting hideously lost (and somehow ending up driving in a loop around an NCP car-park the other side of Reading...), my friend and I got to the South Street Arts Centre in Reading about 3 and a half hours after leaving home, including getting overtaken by an ice-cream van doing 75mph on the Severn Bridge...

    Fortunately, in retrospect, I can say that the drive (yes, even the getting home at 2am part of it...) was definitely worth it.

    We turned up at about 7:25, and were immediately greeted by people carrying plates of food out of the hall and Steve wondering back and forth, and after a short wait we were allowed in.

    The venue itself was fairly ideally suited to a gig of that type. With just two or three rows of seat at the back of the 90-capacity hall, and then banks of tables in front, it was a nice sort of cosy feel you'd hope for. After grabbing some seats to the far left of the hall by a table next to the corner of the stage (got a good view of just how many leads all Steve's mixers and stuff have!), we cracked open some drinks and I went and bought Steve's 3 CD's - but more on that later. By the way - I was the younger person there wearing black trousers and a black hoodie, kinda standing by the entrance doors before we went in with another person with me.

    John Lester played first, and as someone who'd never heard of him prior to the gig, it was a refreshing experience. The mix of DB and electric bass w/vocal tunes were just right, and also provided the last impetus I needed to splash out on a Line6 DL4 after seeing him use one to such good effect. As I say, I'd never heard of him before, so it was a treat to hear such a great voice (and great wit to, as the "French song" demonstrated). He played a great set, and we felt the only slightly negative aspect was the mention of war and so on - it's fair enough if he feels that way, but we came for the music and not for politics, but I suppose it explained the song well.

    After a quick duet with John on DB and Steve on "pseudo jazz guitar", it was time for Steve to play.

    The mix of chordal and effects laden sounds was just right. The gentle chord progressions contrasted perfectly with the more processed sounds, and the layering was spot-on. I'd never been to a solo bass gig before, so seeing a bass create such a full texture on it's own was pretty crazy. One other thing that stuck in my mind about Steve's set and indeed the whole event was just the kind of cameraderie between the performers and the audience. There was just a sort of friendly banter going on which seemed to be really fitting for the venue as well; it rounded the whole atmosphere off well.

    If you're expecting a detailed description of Steve's songs, you're going to be disappointed. As someone who only knew Steve's work through the .mp3s I downloaded in school, I didn't really know the names of the songs, so I can't really say "_____ was great", apart from with "No more us and them" and "Amo Amatis Amare" which both stuck in my mind as particularly good performances!

    After a short-break and some sausage roll snaffling outside, Michael Manring came on. I'd only seen/heard Michael Manring from my Bass Day '98 DVD, so it was cool and in many ways weird. It was bizarre when I stopped to think about it - we'd driven for 3 1/2 hours over 158miles to see some weird American people and some British guy play bass in a small room in the middle of Reading... But anyway, Michael's first song was pretty amazing. His movement on the stage also enhanced the rhythmic qualities of the song, even though everyone kind of winced as he stamped on the stage and Steve's Echoplex's bounced around. It was a great opening number seeing as it was so lively, and the set seemed to flow really smoothly from one song to another. The highlight of Michael's set for me was I think either the one before Helios or two before it - for those that were there, it was the chordal one where he was changing chords by flapping the paddles on his Hyperbass. For those that weren't - Oh my word. Steve's set was an excellent display of how to use your bass in conjunction with effects to make an awesome sound, and Michael's was an excellent display on how to use different tunings and parts of your bass to create an awesome sound. Rifling through chords and just banging the tuning into different steps on the fly was amazing, and it created such a nice melody too.

    Finally, after Michael's set, there was an interesting trio performance which showed all the best aspects of each other's playing.

    I wish I could remember more details about it, but on the whole, it was a great night, and has really made me think about really trying to go for solo bass.

    Thanks, Steve!


    As I said before, I bought 3 of Steve's CD's (bargain for £22!). I tried listening to them on the way home, but my guitarist's CD player in his car is tripe to put it mildly, and can't deal with anything below...well...let's just say that I could probably hear Steve's bass if he went above the 12th fret on the highest string So, this morning after work, I've been gradually listening to them all, and they're really good CD's. For The Love Of Open Spaces is perfect background music, or just to listen to itself. While I've been doing stuff this morning, it's just been playing quietly in the background and the great synthesis of the bass and Theo's instruments of choice blends perfectly.

    Not Dancing For Chicken was also a nice reminder of the night before, with the more solo bass orientated of the albums having a nice diverse range from the kind of 'moodiness' of Exit Sandman to the upbeat-ness of Ubuntu (I think it was that one - rubbish with names!). It's a nicely diverse album, great value for money!

    I've not had a chance to listen to Conversations yet, but from the snippets I've heard from the site, I'm looking forward to it.
  7. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I went to the gig last night at the Troubadour. Unfortunately, my wife and I didn't get particularly good seats so we couldn't see much but the sound was very clear. All three artists were great, although I think Michael's performance was the most jaw-dropping for me - give him a pointy hat and everyone would know that he's a true wizard of the bass!

    Later today I'm going to listen to the MD recording I made and see what won in the battle between music and background noise (whispering, air conditioning etc) :D

    Meanwhile, I'll leave you with the one photo that came out half decent - Michael in blurry action and Steve performing some kind of nasal adjustment manoeuvre:


  8. Gymn teacher's hanky!!! ;) Ahhh, snibbed! :D
  9. Great gig report, Homemade.
    I'll jot down as much as I can remember of Michael's and Steve's set list from last night's gig (at the Troubador):
    Michael's set:
    Beatles medley
    ?? - Can't remember if there was another tune in here.
    La Sagrada Familia (on the "other" hyperbass - with capo madness)
    The Enormous Room (flapping paddles on his Hyperbass :D )
    Bach Cello Sonata

    Steve's set (in very approximate order):
    What's going on (??)
    No more us and them - introduced via the Dalai Lama (not Llama!)
    Amo amatis amare
    Need you now
    People get ready

    The joint improv started with a Star Wars sound effect context which then transmogrified into a really beautiful improv. Chords sprang from nowhere, melodies drifted, stunning.

    The second joint effort was a absolutely stunning take on "All Blues" - John Lester providing the backbone upright bass riff, and the lead vocal for the head. Steve provided chords, Manring provided the counterpoint. This was a highlight for me. The three players blended beautifully, complementing each others work and honestly, not one toe was stepped on as they weaved around each other (figuratively!).

    Other highlights? Seeing Michael perform "The Enormous Room". If you haven't heard this, then do try to track down Thonk. It's worth it just for this track (but you'll enjoy the rest of the album anyway!). If you haven't seen Michael perform this, then what are you doing sitting in front of the computer, get out there and see him play NOW!!! Steve's version of Curtis Mayfield's "People get ready" was another stunner. Steve - you really must try to get this on your next album (copyright issues not withstanding). A really sensitively played, and nicely arranged solo bass version.

    Was that it? So short? The time passed really quickly. (2.5 hours). Had to dash to get trains back home, so sorry I didn't get much of a chance to hang out and chat.

    MTR - if you're reading this, nice to see you.

    Michael and Steve. Thanks once again for a truly memorable and insipirational evening.

    Others - If you've got the chance to see these guys, then get off yer butts and do it.

    Orra best,
  10. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    John Lester was no slouch, either :D

    I'd definitely agree about All Blues having been a great rendition of that song. I wasn't so keen on the first trio improvisation - I didn't really get a sense of structure from it and I'm not sure that John's bass was properly on during that one!

    Where were you sitting, Mike? I didn't see you there, although it was a bit crowded for easy mingling round.

  11. Hi Wulf. Sorry to have appeared biased in the earlier synopsis. John Lester's set (what I saw of it) was really excellent. It's great to see a fantastic singer and songwriter approaching the genre from the bass. I've enjoyed listening to his CD. His basses (both) sounded fantastic and he's got a great voice. I arrived around 8:15 and so we were relegated to standing right at the back for the duration. Not a bad view though since most folks in front of us were sitting. The place was packed though!

    I enjoyed the first improv set, mainly because of the way that the structure coallesced gradually. When they started, Steve laid down a rather abstract ambience, and you could see John and Michael go "Eh? Oh, well... Yeah. OK then... Bring it on!" And then all three embarked on a competition to see who could make the most abstract non-bass noises. Great stuff. But the final result was actually a million light years away from the start.

    Structure? Who needs structure... If you can make it through the 22 minute mix of The Orb's "An evergrowing pulsating brain that rules from the centre of the ultraworld" (or the 40 minute mix of "Blue Room"!) then you can cope with Steve's most "out there" structures... ;)
  12. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    Indeed - definitely a sell out night. Jane and I were in an alcove at the back underneath the pavement and then got to move a few feet forward for Michael's set. Which back of the room were you at? It was an awkward shaped area, so I'm presuming you were nearer the entrance (which could also been seen as the back from a different perspective).
    Who said I can make it through such remixes? :D

    Mind you, my MD recording came out pretty well. It suffers a bit from things like the air conditioning adding an unwanted noise floor but the overall sound in the venue was so clear that it's still listenable. As you can imagine, that's acting as my morning backing track, while I go through and mark the beginning and ending of songs.

  13. I also took a minidisc recorder-
    I recorded Michael Manring's set and the final trio jams-
    I've been listening to that quite a bit (like Wulf I wasn't that keen on the first trio improv though)

    the quieter bits were marred slightly by talking in the audience :meh:

    still, great gig :cool:

    BTW what effect does Michael use for the horn sound for the solo on the "Vinny" headless fretted bass in the Beatles medley just before going into "Blackbird"?
  14. Yeah, sounds pretty much identical to the Reading gig! The Enormous Room really is crazy to watch. It's just amazing to see him consistently be exactly in time and banging through the paddles like that. Plus it sounds awesome too!

    John Lester's voice is awesome, and if I hadn't laid down all my funds on coke, Haribo and Steve's CDs I'd have definitely got a couple of his too.
  15. Michael Manring

    Michael Manring TalkBass Pro Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Thanks so much for coming to the gigs guys, and for the very kind words. We had a blast and hope to do much more. I have to say a special thanks to Steve for all his hard work, hospitality and groovy notes!
  16. Hi guys,

    Three of us went to the Reading gig and we did a 5 hour round trip. As someone said, it was either enlightening or depressing - not sure which as these guys are interstellar. I can say that seeing Michael was probably my best ever muscial experience.

    John Leser was fantastic and great entertainment and should be heard by a wider audience, hopefully.

    Steve is technically superb, but I have to say that I did feel :ninja: at times that he could have just sent a CD and not bothered playing! This was our shared opinon on the way back as looping, although brilliant, can get to a stage where it all gets a bit techie. It's all a bit like where do you start and end with effects? Artistically I can really appreciate it, but for I do like being entertained. Sorry.

    Finally, thanks to the guys for their time chatting after the gig and to Michael for his hyperbass demo.
  17. The only bit Mr. Alan said he thought could've been improved on was when Steve kinda put his bass down and went to the mixing desk mid-song, but personally I thought it fitted in with it all really.

    Should slap some pics up of what we all look like so we can try and think back and recognise each other!

  18. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    It was still live and improvised though - a fresh recreation and thus not quite the same as just listening to one of his CDs. Mind you, I suppose I could see your point if you've not heard one of his CDs before. I was right at the back and couldn't see Steve at all because he was sitting down... so I might have felt differently if I hadn't known that his music was turning different corners from what I've heard on his disks (or previous performances) and thus worth listening to intently.

  19. I'd only heard bits and pieces of Steve's stuff on a few select mp3s, and to me, that made the performance more special than if I knew the songs. It was so incredible to see it all being done in real-time. One of my maths teachers who walked in on me recording some solo bass stuff said he'd heard someone doing that opening for Level 42 a couple of years back (turned out it was Steve :p), and he'd said he just didn't believe it was all real-time. And that's the thing - you just don't know where it's going to go, and when you hear one piece and think "that sounded cool" then hear it fit in perfectly with about 5 other layers, it just really impresses you. Because I simply didn't know any of the songs, I feel it kinda enhanced that feeling too.

    Oh yeah, and what does *checks CD for name* "Amo Amatis Amare" mean?!

  20. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I believe it's a conjugation of the Latin verb, "to love" .... I love, you love, he/she loves. That's why Steve always makes the Latin joke when he performs it.