Remember those flimsy plastic discs you used to occasionally get free with the likes of NME and Sounds? Well, that’s how I got into Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie, sometime in the late 80’s. The taster track was ‘Candlestick Park’ – I was hooked and have been a fan ever since. Life and technology (lack of it in the last century) and the bands hiatus got in the way so this was the 1st time I had the chance to see them live in 36 years. Over the years I’ve amassed all their LP output on CD and know they have a wonderful back catalogue so was rather excited by the prospect of finally seeing them in the flesh.
The band sauntered on stage with Big John Duncan slowly coming on last (to huge audience adoration) trying to negotiate the small stage with his crutches and escorted to his seat by guitarist Jim Brady.
The opening salvo of staccato keyboards and guitar brings on the first song ‘You Generous Thing You’ played throughout in backlit moody red light – a haunting monstrous sound. Now I’m going off track here but the Garage reminds me very much of the 229, also in London and similar layout/size, and both suffer from exactly the same problem crap inhouse lighting!! But hey what a fucking start – mean and moody, then ‘Open Your Arms’ another classic from their outstanding debut LP. They pretty much continued in this vein throughout the show, and boy were they LOUD – I think every instrument was set to 11 😊.
The 7-piece band comprised of many original members (wonderful); frontman Martin Metcalfe; lead guitar Big John Duncan; drums Derek Kelly; bass Fin Wilson, keyboards Rona Scobie, guitars Jim Brady (a sometime Rezillos man) and backing vocals/guitar from Tippi Hedron – looking very rock chick. Wonderful, I had a huge grin to my face, never expected to so many together again.
Martin Metcalfe is an enigmatically striking frontman dressed in black bar a burgundy waistcoat. His Maria Rudd designed jacket and top hat have emblems embroidered onto them and add dark glasses he looks an imposing sight. Theatre indeed.
They really are a tight outfit, giving it everything throughout. Martin was right when introducing the band to say “and kicking the shit out of the drums – Derek Kelly”. Obviously, it’s hard to take your eyes away from Martin and the physically imposing Big John resplendent in tattoos and shorts sat at the front of the stage. John and Jim interacted brilliantly on guitars between solo and rhythm with Kelly and Fin’s bass holding down the backbeat to precision. Overlaying all of this was Rona’s soaring keyboards hidden at the back of the stage. Martin prowled the stage and conducted the audience for gleeful singalongs, and when he finally took off his hat and glasses revealed a bald panda eyed shamanic messiah. I’m sure he could start his own cult 😊..
It would appear to me that GMM have a much bigger following ‘up norf’ given that this was by no means a sell-out, but the audience were total diehard fans and loved it all. All songs getting a thunderous reception, which I feel led the band on to produce such an excellent display. They know when they are appreciated and loved.
Setlist (8:30 – 9:50) – (Click on link to see video on YouTube)
- You Generous Thing – (Good Deeds and Dirty Rags, 1989)
- Open Your Arms – (Good Deeds and Dirty Rags, 1989)
- Hard – (Five, 1994)
- His Master’s Voice – (Good Deeds and Dirty Rags, 1989)
- Love Child – (Hammer and Tongs, 1991)
- Niagara – (Five, 1994)
- Working On The Shoo-Fly – (Live: On the Day of Storms, 1993) unreleased!
- Green Turn Red – (Fish Heads and Tails, 1989)
- Here Comes Deacon Brodie – (Fish Heads and Tails, 1989)
- Normal Boy – (Five, 1994)
- The Way I Walk – (The Way I Walk EP, 1994)
- Now We Are Married – (Hammer and Tongs, 1991)
- Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie – (Good Deeds and Dirty Rags, 1989)
- The Rattler – (Good Deeds and Dirty Rags, 1989)
- Blacker Than Black – (Hammer and Tongs, 1991)
- Goodwill City – (Good Deeds and Dirty Rags, 1989)
An extended version of ‘Niagra’ is nothing short of stupendous, total stand out and ‘Here Comes Deacon Brodie’ is an up tempo joyous thing of beauty. On this form the Mackenzies are untouchable. Ironically, Big John takes centre stage to sing ‘The Way I Walk’ to much applause. The last 4 songs are a triumph, all exceptional with band and audience really letting loose. A flawless, consummate performance. ‘The Rattler’ is sung in unison with the euphoric crowd. For the encore the band don’t leave the stage given Big John’s mobility problems – as he succinctly put it “if you think I’m gonna fucking walk all the way to the door to fucking walk all the way back then you can all fuck off”. We then launch into a couple of my favourites ‘Blacker Than Black’ and ‘Goodwill City’.
As the band leave the stage, Martin leads the crowd into a short acapella reprise singalong of ‘The Rattler’ – thus enabling Big John to finally get off the stage. We sing along, dance and smile and clap I’m ecstatic.
Tonight Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie have been on top of their game throughout, simply untouchable. An outstanding gig and an unforgettable evening. They surpassed my wildest expectations; I’m still buzzing weeks later. Spread the word, tell all your friends, go see GMM one of the most under-rated bands ever, they will not be disappointed.
Marko [ 26 October 2022]
PS – The have such a great arsenal of songs that were not played – ‘Candlestick Park’, ‘Calton Hill’, ‘Bold John Barleycorn’, ‘Amsterdam’, ‘Knockin’ on Joe’, ‘Face To Face’ – hopefully next time!
PPS – The merch stand was a tad bland – I’m sure they can do better with t-shirts etc. That said I did purchase the ‘Good Deeds and Dirty Rags’ LP on marble vinyl no less. The guy manning the stall was a true gent and though it was difficult for him to get it autographed for me he gave me a free copy of the autographed CD to accompany it – even better it had 3 extra tracks on it!