Ian McNabb – Concert review – The Slaughtered Lamb London 24 Nov 2018

Another first for me, a new venue in London for an intimate gig.  The Slaughtered Lamb pub basement in Farringdon – sold out capacity of 120 people (with say 20 odd stools at the front of the stage).  As it’s a tiny venue and we are all crammed in seated at the front you soon get to know everyone around you.  Luckily yours truly arrived just in time to take the remaining seats directly in front of Ian (why do people not like to go near the front?) – any closer and I’d have been playing!  The venue has a low ceiling, small bar (yippee!), even smaller merch stall, is lit in pinky/purple haze with some twinkly lights smattered around the small stage containing a Korg keyboard and 4 acoustic guitars, of which Ian only uses two, mainly the black Gretsch.  An evening of stripped down classic awaits – Ian unplugged finally.

Tonight, is a mix of old classics and new songs from his recent ‘Our Future in Space’ LP.  It takes a couple of songs to get the sound mix just right – the sound man was sat at the bar all night, and it looked like he likes a drink or three – so that might have been the problem – tee hee.

Now I’ve seen him a number of times with his band The Icicle Works, but never this close and personal.  Ian walks on promptly at 20:00 in trainers, jeans, t-shirt, checked shirt and hat i.e. scruffy as always – he won’t be modelling for Armani any time soon 😊.  Being a Scouser Ian has a good sense of humour which comes out in abundance throughout the gig both whilst chatting with the audience and ad-libbing during the songs – well as he says “Bob Dylan does it all the time” or during ‘Heart of Gold’ when the audience are singing along and forgot the words “just as well I’m here init”.  He’s a funny fucker! – just check out the videos links further down.

So mainly guitar songs, some with harmonica and two or three at the piano.  He’s a prolific song writer and as such has a back catalogue of classics to pick from, a lot of which were played during his 2 ¾ hour set (with a 15 minute break).  My mate Nick and I thoroughly enjoyed the show and at £14 a ticket it’s an absolute steal – you should be charging a lot more Ian!!  It’s a travesty that he’s been mostly ignored (by TV/music press) or simply forgotten by the vast majority but at least he has a diehard fan base to keep him going.  He’s doing the social media stuff e.g. Twitter, FaceBook to keep his name out there and I suppose the only way to make a living these days is to tour, tour, tour and sell merchandise at the gigs.

I took a photo of the setlist but he didn’t do it in the order listed and added audience requests such as the encore ‘North of England’.  So, to the best of my 8-pint lager/Guinness knowledge he defo played these tunes:


Click on the hyperlinks in blue to go to my YouTube channel where you can watch Ian in action (plus some very out of tune audience sing-alongs) – well worth the time in my humble opinion.

He’s definitely got a bit of 70’s Neil Young about him, another scruffy Herbert but a total genius.  And so a fitting end to a great night with the classic Young cover ‘Heart of Gold’ somewhat ruined with piss poor singing by the audience!

So I’m very happy, at the end of the gig Ian leant over and gave me his plectrum, apparently he’s never seen anyone giving it large to ‘Clarabella’ before.  Plus a signed LP (wot not on 180g vinyl or with a download code for the mp3) and photo with him – what’s not to like.

So ‘The Icicle Works’ are back in London in May 2019 – I’m just about to order my tickets!  Thank you, Ian, for a wonderful night and sorry about the singing 😊.

Marko [25 Nov 2018]

ps – He’s a genius!!

The Human League – Red Tour 2018 Southend Cliffs Pavilion [21 /11/2018]

The Human League live concert review – Southend Cliffs Pavilion [24 Nov 2018]

The Human League – Red Tour 2018 – Southend Cliffs Pavilion, 1st night of the UK leg of their Red tour.

Tonight’s gig was supported by Midge Ure’s band ‘Electronica.   A nice surprise actually.  Midge did a 45-minute supported by his Electronica band, dressed all in black.  Uncannily Midge and his drummer look like they were separated at birth, whilst the keyboard and guitarist look at least half his age.  The entertaining slot contained a mix of his solo stuff and Ultravox greatest hits, of which I knew most songs but had forgotten them in the mists of time.  And I learnt that he wrote ‘Fade to Grey’ for Visage.  These are the songs I remember:

  • I Remember (Death in the Afternoon)P1010058
  • Fade to Grey
  • Vienna
  • All Stood Still
  • Dancing with Tears in My Eyes
  • Love’s Great Adventure

Some nice guitar licks, pounding electro beats and an upbeat Midge.  All in all a good start to the evening – unlike the bloody traffic getting into Southend – queuing from M25!

Phil has been at it since the group’s inception in 1977 in Sheffield.  Nowadays it’s effectively a trio of Philip plus Joanne Catherall and Susan Sulley.  Phil, the only original member of ‘The Human League’, these days is bald with an interesting line in goatie.   As usual he knows how to wear designer cloths and look good, his tall slim svelte frame accentuating the numerous fancy costume changes throughout the night.

Tonight, Phil has the girls either side of him and the band mainly located within a square modular design (borrowing from the ‘Pet Shop Boys’ and recent ‘New Order’ style stage design).  It’s all covered in sheeting and enables the lighting and special effects to bathe warm neon lights or bounce around to the rhythm of the sounds.  It all very hi-tech – gleaming white stands for the Roland keyboards (detachable guitar style keytar ones at that) and electronic drum kit.  All supported by the nowadays ubiquitous computers running the show and background sounds.

My only complaint is that during a couple of songs the spots really hit the standing audience full on so frequently that it was impossible to see the stage without being temporarily blinded.

The Human League Red Tour 2018 banner2

Phil walks on to a crescendo applause wearing a transparent sleeveless PVC coat (see further down for a description of the band clothes) with dark shades and launches into “The Sound of the Crowd” – which we knew was coming as the band had already being playing a long intro into it.  The girls are made up to the hilt in the make up stakes (layered on).  Susan starts off looking like a cross between Princess Leia from Star Wars and a pantomime drag queen. Her hair is in a large bun which she later informs us is due to some backstage hair alchemy going wrong. Black eyes, rep lippy and long diamante earrings.

Surprisingly his voice is as it always was, he still hits the right notes which is more than can be said for Susan and Joanne.  Phil does the majority of vocal duties tonight, which the exception of Susan singing “One Man in My Heart”.  Alas, she can’t hold a tune to save her life, but she more than makes up for it with her enthusiasm, dancing and stage presence.

He might be getting on a bit but blimey he’s like a jack-in-the-box moving around the stage barely staying still at any point bar the odd slow song.  This is totally the opposite of Joanne who looked uninterested throughout, grumpy even.  Occasionally she’d lift an arm, move a leg, swivel the hips, walk about and sing backing vocals.  She even made her no doubt expensive outfits look drab in total comparison to the exuberant in your face loving it Susan to her right.  I’m not really sure what she adds to the band apart that she comes with the fixtures and fittings.

The majority of songs tonight are from their 80’s purple patch period and especially the LP ‘Dare’.  They are nicely interspersed with a smattering of post 90’s tunes such as “Night People” and “Tell Me When”.   In truth they do have a solid catalogue of gold to call upon.

The Costume changes


  • Sleeveless PVC see through raincoat with half a tartan kilt on his right hip and trousers finishing half way down his calf.
  • All in black, PVC jacket again!
  • All in black with a nice shortened bomber jacket with white stretch band, which he took off to reveal an excellent top with white sleeves emblazoned with diamante patches.
  • A dark grey pinstripe suit with embroidered pattern sleeves.
  • And to finish white trousers and a sleeveless shirt (orange front and white back)

OK Phil – where do you get this gear – Gaultier?


  • White dress/cape combo with flowing sleeves.
  • Black sleeveless dress.
  • Short black dress with cape and silver boots.


  • White long skirt with white sleeveless basque style top.
  • Long black skirt with black sleeveless top.
  • Weird black cabaret style velvet top and short glitter skirt combo with flowing sleeves and a crown.

My personal favourite of the night was their rendition of “Behind the Mask” by the Japanese band ‘Yellow Magic Orchestra’.  It was so much better than the original version! I’d completely forgotten this catchy classic and it really got the crowd waving and moving to the beat.  The crowd by the way was mainly couples and groups of ladies I’d say 40-60 age bracket, reliving their 80 heydays with a bit of nostalgia.  ‘Seconds’ also got me thinking about the lyrics, not just a vacuous electro pop band after all.

Setlist (Click links to watch videos on YouTube)

  1. The Sound of the Crowd (Dare, 1981)
  2. Mirror Man (Dare, 1981)The Human League Red Tour 2018 [21 Nov 2018]2
  3. Heart Like a Wheel (Romantic?, 1990)
  4. The Things That Dreams Are Made Of (Dare, 1981)


  5. Night People (Credo, 2011)
  6. Seconds (Dare, 1981)
  7. The Lebanon (Hysteria, 1984)
  8. One Man in My Heart (Octopus, 1995) – Susan solo
  9. Louise (Hysteria, 1984)
  10. Human (Crash, 1986)
  11. Open Your Heart (Dare, 1981)
  12. Behind the Mask (Yellow Magic Orchestra cover, 1979)
  13. Love Action (I Believe in Love) (Dare, 1981)
  14. All I Ever Wanted (Secrets, 2001)
  15. Tell Me When (Octopus, 1995)
  16. (Keep Feeling) Fascination (Fascination!, 1983)
  17. Don’t You Want Me (Dare, 1981)20181121_203251


  1. Being Boiled (Reproduction, 1979)
  2. Together in Electric Dreams (Phil Oakey/Giorgio Moroder 1984)

Loads of classic songs left the audience little room for any complaints.  They knew all the words and on numerous occasions just burst into life singing the songs for Phil (e.g. Louise) and especially for the ‘Don’t You Want Me’ where both verses and chorus were sung with almighty glee before Phil had even got back on stage after yet another costume change.  The encore took us back to the beginning with their 1st single ‘Being Boiled’ and then to top it off Phil’s 1984 disco style collaboration with Giorgio Moroder ‘Together in Electric Dreams’. Human League Nov 2018

And that ladies and gentlemen was that. House lights on, giant smiles firmly in place, quick sing-along on the way out and a scramble to the bar and cloak rooms.

Don’t you want me baby?  oh-go on then Phil!

Reviewed by Marko [22 Nov 2018]

PS – they know their crowd, the merch stall was selling mugs and tea towels 😊

The Human League – Red Tour 2018 – Merch stand Southend 21 Nov 18