This his second visit to the workingmen’s club environment of the Transport Club Cardiff is a bit of a strange setting but I’m no stranger to seeing some artists take the stage in some weird and wonderful settings I did wonder what time the meat raffle was or if we’d missed it. The room is very well populated and McNabb takes the stage just after eight and to be fair he doesn’t hang about as he takes his seat straps on an acoustic guitar and throws in a few big un’s early doors which is always nice to sort of gauge how an evening is going to pan out. To be fair you could have heard a pin drop apart from a pair of daft mares sat in the corner yapping like fish wives but they were soon shushed and a very refreshing silence hushed over the building as McNabb got on with the business of knocking out some superb tunes. It was ‘Head Like A Rock’, ‘Merseybeast’, ‘Understanding Jane’, ‘Ought To Be A Law’ an epic ‘You Must Be Prepared To Dream’ before he explained the concept behind the new album before playing the title track ‘Our Future In Space’. He did mention that if we wanted it could be a marathon performance which is always nice to hear meaning that he’s up for it and means business and it was when he informed us that he’d tucked his socks in his trousers in case he needed a toilet break but couldn’t stop playing which was nice to know.
McNabb then moved over to his trusty piano for a few tales about playing with Mike Scott and his style of piano playing which led to him playing ‘Making Silver Sing’ also off the new album which sounded fantastic as a solo piece with just him his keyboard and harmonica. McNabb was on fire as he indulged in some banter with the locals even letting everyone know he’ll be next playing local with the Icicle Works which was – um? oh yes local if you call London and 150 miles local. Even McNabb saw the funny side of that one.
After more new songs including great audience participation during ‘Vodka Rivers & Cigarette Trees’. Sadly it wasn’t to be the three hour marathon not quite but it was two hours and that’ll do but if the first half hour wasn’t strong enough to take the set home ‘Camaraderie’, an immense and powerful ‘Before All Of This’ built up towards the show stopper that is ‘When It All Comes Down’. However, McNabb surprisingly didn’t play ‘Wonderful Colours’ tonight not that I’m too disappointed seeing as we got ‘Out Of Season’ off the first album which was cool. before leaving the stage we had an amusing introduction to ‘Liverpool Girls’. There was also an immaculate rendition of ‘Clarabella (come To The Window)’ from ‘Star Smile Strong’ which saw McNabb once again go right from his humble beginnings off that debut Icicle Works album right through his career including ‘Pocahontas’ and the story about playing his hometown with Neil Young in front of thousands and how it meant the same to him as playing a small club to a room full of appreciative fans in Cardiff which went down well.
He could have gone on all night and knowing he does house shows maybe we should have offered him a bed for the night and taken him home to play all the songs I wanted him to play that he didn’t have time for.but then next time maybe I’ll get a bunch of those but whatever he plays McNabb could sing a shopping list and I’d be all ears such is his velvet tones and captivating songs. Always a pleasure – never a chore. Ian McNabb songwriting genius and all round good bloke. If you get the chance to see him play I suggest you do because you won’t regret it. Simply Fantastic!