Last Sunday I went with Sister the Second to see 10cc. We were both big fans in the 1970s but then they kind of went out of mind. You may remember that I watched a super programme about singer/songwriters featuring Graham Gouldman from 10cc and, presumably because they are on tour, there were also several radio interviews AND I bought a ‘Best of’ CD so I was up to my neck in 10cc. I was therefore mildly hysterical when STS suggested we go to see them.
The thousand seater venue was packed and there was an interesting age range from teenagers to the elderly, although predominantly people in their early 50s. The atmosphere was terrific. The lights went up and Graham Gouldman started the concert on his own playing acoustic guitar. He began to tell the story of how the band came to be and for the third song, he brought in another band member with his guitar, and this continued until four of them were on stage, playing and singing.
The balance of their voices and guitars was perfect and the sound, right the way through the concert was exactly right – loud enough to give the right atmosphere but sufficiently subtle that nobody’s ears began to bleed. Gouldman was the only original member, but the other four musicians had all had a long association with 10cc and definitely had the same musicianship and versatility that was so much a part of their success.
There is something incredibly intimate about listening to people that good playing acoustically together. It feels as though you’re being let into a secret in a way that is different from an electrified set. And there is something about blokes and guitars. Mmm. They played acoustically for 25 minutes then, after an interval, they came back for the full on 10cc experience.
Graham Gouldman & Paul Burgess
I have never been to a concert where the live music was as close to the recorded versions as this. Now don’t think that this means it was clinical in any way – it was just … perfect. Every note. Every harmony. Perfect. They were so tight and so in sync with one another that it took my breath away. It must have been quite a challenge for the new musicians to get that good at someone else’s songs without it become a pastiche, but succeed they did and they managed to put their own stamp on the songs without spoiling them for an audience who still knew every word and every key change.
There was a nice moment when the ‘ring-ring’ of Donna waiting by the telephone, was replaced by the irritating ‘diddle dee dee’ of the Nokia ring tone.
They were awesome musicians. Mick Wilson sang most of the lead vocals demonstrating an incredible vocal range but also played guitar, keyboards and percussion, sometimes at the same time. Mike Stevens played guitar, bass, keyboards and saxophone. Rick Fenn played virtuoso guitar and Paul Burgess, the drummer, held it all together with the discretion of the truly talented, as well as a short stint on the keyboards. Mr Gouldman contented himself with playing and singing a range of songs that would have most musicians selling their souls to have written.
Rick Fenn & Gouldman
There was very little chat. Gouldman introduced some of the songs and explained their pedigree; there were a few jokes, a few cheerful jibes at former 10cc members, but mostly they just got on and played. The last song was a tribute to John Lennon (“without The Beatles there would have been no 10cc”) and they did a beautiful version of ‘Nothing’s going to change my world’.
But there was one song missing. They sauntered off, we yelled and stamped and cried for more, and unsurprisingly they came back and sang….. ‘Rubber Bullets’. It brought the house down, with everyone on their feet dancing and singing.
Apparently, they have been packing out every venue on their tour and I’m not surprised. There are four dates left for 7th-10th April and if I could have got to Northampton on 7th, I would have gone again. Not bad for a band who had their first No. 1 in 1972. If ever there was a band who were seriously under-rated, it was 10cc. They were and are magnificent. I bought badges – I may buy a T-shirt.
Acoustic Set – songs written for other people
Pamela, Pamela – Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders
Bus Stop – The Hollies
No Milk Today – Herman’s Hermits
Look Through any Window – The Hollies
For Your Love – The Yardbirds
Electric Set – songs written by 10cc for themselves
Wall Street Shuffle
The Things we do for Love
Good Morning Judge
Life is a Minestrone
Art for Art’s Sake
Feel the Benefit
Old Wild Men
The Dean & I
From Rochdale to Ocho Rios
I’m not in love
Nothing’s going to change my world
Rubber Bullets (encore)
Now listen to this. Probably one of the best songs ever written.