Praying Mantis - 10 Year Party - Dean Swift - 18 December 1999
Last Modified On 21 Mar 2009
To celebrate tens years of the current core line-up of Praying Mantis the band decided to hold an invite only party (Hence I didn't put it in the news page, sorry).
The band did no rehearsals for the gig since they are still busy working on he next album. About 7 songs are now in a pre-mix stat of completion, so before Mantis played the main set they put the tape on. Unfortunately it wasn't very loud compared to the packed pub. So I didn't really pick up an impressions about it. One song sounded like a "Remember My Name" type slow song. Apparently Dennis has written two songs and co-wrote one with Chris. Chris has done 6 altogether. Tino about two. And Tony has done the lyrics and melody for one song.
Tony had been due to come down and record during the previous week but unfortunately he had been laid out with a cold. It was very unclear if he would make the gig or not. Luckily he did and I thought he sang very well. I couldn't really tell he was feeling ill (A feeling I see in others about me all the time so I am sure he still felt very rough.)
The band set up their gear and played a warm up around 7pm. It was very obvious they hadn't played the songs since the tour of November 98. By the time they played the official set at 9pm though the one time play through and almost completely sorted them out. Amazing! Lovers To The Grave on the warm up had proved the most difficult but although the band noticed a few problems and spent a few minutes remembering who was playing which harmony they were still pretty good.
Leon Lawson was back on the keyboards and I know ten days before the gig he had not played the songs and couldn't remember them at all. He had had to get a set list and re-learn all the parts from scratch. Being a guitarist until 6 months before the last Mantis tour, he was still in the early stages of playing keyboards. He was a quick learner and having an extra year of practising Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz techniques he was looking forward to playing even more this time.
It was also the first time he had played Lovers To The Grave. Not that he had caused any of the problems in the warm-up. They seem to have been mainly lyrical problems. Very surprising since Tino and Chris had only been singing them during the summer. It was interesting to see the difference between how Steve Carroll handled this song and how Dennis did it. Perhaps I am remembering a different song but in the fast section I seem to recall both Steve and Tino were on the arpeggios half way up the neck of the guitar but Dennis seemed to play a completely different backing at that point. Both sounded great.
The Dean Swift is a 30m?x20m? box room with the bar taking up large amount of space in the centre of the back wall. The band were therefore positioned on the long side in front of it. Leon on the far left in one section. Dennis next in another and then Bruce, Tony, Chris and Tino in the main section.
The mix or lack of it was actually very good. I was positioned slightly to the left of Dennis and I didn't get the full effect of Tino but everyone else was perfect. For the main set the pub was packed (Even though the guest list looked to have limited numbers and the pub was officially closed for the night)
Steve Mann who used to be in Lionheart and MSG took over Dennis's guitar. And Leon remained on keyboards. Tony and his Wife Jaz did a few backing vocals on a couple of songs and a great deal of fun was had by all.
Phil Moog of UFO was in the audience and they tried to get him to play Doctor Doctor with the band. Unfortunately the Paddies drummer didn't know it so it didn't happen. I am told a couple of members of Tank were in the audience too but I didn't notice them myself.
Dennis had most of his family there including the daughter that was pictured on Only The Children Cry. I would never have guessed she was there if I hadn't asked as obviously she is no longer a child and has had a haircut.
Bruce's new wife was in the audience to.
Children Of The Earth
Can't See The Angels
Turn The Tables
Smoke On The Water