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Ian McLagan & The Bump Band Live at the Jazz Café, London

26 February 2000

by James McNair

Without The Small Faces or The Faces, we're told, Britpop could never have happened. No doubt you'll have your own opinion about whether thanks are in order. Ian "Mac" McLagan was in both those bands, playing swirling Hammond organ on "Itchycoo Park" and sussed electric piano on "Stay With Me". Later, he gained further kudos as a noted session-player, his credits including Dylan, The Stones and Billy Bragg.

Tonight, McLagan was his own warm-up man, taking the stage early to give a reading from his autobiography. All the Rage is full of juicy, celebrity vignettes, but this evening's extracts left all of those unsqueezed. McClagan could have told us about his love affair with Keith Moon's estranged wife (on finding out about the relationship, Moon paid a henchman to break Mac's fingers), or about Rod Stewart's claim that "The Faces would shag anything with a pulse". Instead, he told us about buying his first Hammond. This set the tone for an evening of missed opportunities.

The evening began promisingly enough with McLagan firing-up that much-loved organ to lead the Bump Band in the old Booker T & The MG's number "Can't Be Still". To his left, guitarists Gurf Morlix and Scrappy Jud Newcomb comped and countered in style. Down in the crowd, camp boys with feather-cuts and cravats strutted their stuff alongside Honky Tonk Woman.

The problem, it soon transpired, was the new material. With the exception of "Hello Old Friend" – featuring some fine slide work from Newcomb – there was little from the Best of British album to get excited about. Thus, while one would have to acknowledge that McLagan is immensely likeable and a great soloist, these days his bar-room piano and mockney banter tend to evoke Chas & Dave, rather than the pioneering spirit of Sixties rhythm and blues.

I said it was an evening of missed opportunities. Throughout the performance, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood was seated at an upstairs table. McLagan had acknowledged his presence early on, and old big-nose had stuck his head over the balcony for all to see.

By now we'd been treated to "Cindy Incidentally", and the evening's denouement had seemed obvious: surely Ronnie would join the Bump Band for the encores? But despite the audience's heartfelt pleas, it wasn't to be.

The sense of disappointment was tangible, and we felt we'd been strung along. Just before the house-lights came up, one of the cravat brigade grabbed the vocal mike, and looking up towards the celebrity table, shouted "come on you part-timers – Stay With Me!"

McLagan & The Bump Band's 'Best of British' is out on 28 February, Maniac Records

Printed in The Independent

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