“Let the music speak” - Mama in concert at the Theatre On The Steps Bridgnorth on Saturday 4th May 2013. Review and photos by Alan Hewitt.

Mama have continued to draw appreciative audiences over the last few months since their debut and tonight was to be no exception. Tonight’s venue has to be one of the more unusual ones I have ever been to for a gig, literally situated half way down a flight of over 200 steps leading down to the river Trent - not an easy one for load in/out I can tell you!

That aside, the venue was a delightful small theatre run entirely by volunteers and the kind of venue which I thought had long since disappeared from the UK scene. Once band and crew pronounced themselves happy with sound and other technical issues, there was still time for a bout of exploring the delights of Bridgnorth before the time arrived to let the punters in.

An almost capacity crowd soon filled the theatre and at shortly past 8pm the band, complete with new bass player Mr David Perry filed on stage and got things under with a marvellous version of their own theme tune: Mama swiftly followed by the now standard Duke’s Medley and Turn It On Again all of which were well received by the enthusiastic audience.

Land Of Confusion still doesn’t really do anything for me I’m afraid, but the crowd loved it. No Son Of Mine was much more to my taste and it was at this point that the presence of David Perry on the bass really made an impact on the overall sound of the band, and it was he and drummer James Cooper who were the rhythmic backbone of the band throughout the show.

Many Too Many simply gets better each time I hear the band perform it and the segue into Musical Box works incredibly well and both were served up in magnificent fashion here tonight. Contrasting that with Misunderstanding was a masterstroke too, with some fine playing all round.

Ripples gave keyboards man and guitarist, the brothers John and Mark Comish their chance to shine and both of them did not disappoint sending shivers up and down my spine throughout and through many of the other members of the audience too, I don’t doubt! Follow You Follow Me and Domino filled out the first half of an excellent show with the promise of much more to come in the second half.

Interval over, the band returned to rock out the theatre with what were without doubt the best versions of Dodo/Lurker and Abacab I have seen since Genesis last performed them and I don’t say that lightly either! Once again, the bass playing of David Perry threatened to rip the roof off the theatre and John Wilkinson gave 110% in the vocal department here too.

A brief respite next with an enjoyable romp through one of those songs that Peter Gabriel used to play (and still does) as we got a playful rendering of Solsbury Hill in which John Wilkinson and Mark Comish really shone. Squonk brought the ensemble playing to the fore again and another flawless performance from each and every band member here was gleefully appreciated by the audience.

Spectral Mornings took on special significance for me tonight as the band very kindly dedicated it to the memory of my late father, and I have to admit that I cried my eyes out throughout it

Entering the final strait, the band gave us blistering versions of In The Air Tonight and In The Cage complete with the ubiquitous medley culminating in a truly awesome version of Afterglow.

No rest for the wicked though as Los Endos thundered out of the traps and once again, it was the combined talents of James and David which took this one to new heights of musical excellence before Tonight, Tonight, Tonight and Invisible Touch brought the show to a rousing conclusion. I still don’t know where John gets the energy from to deliver such superb vocal performances of these two tracks but he did it astonishingly well again here tonight.

Bows taken, the band soon returned to the stage for the expected encores which featured a respectful Carpet Crawlers and a raucous I Know What I Like complete with a human lawnmower from yours truly bringing another excellent night to a suitably enjoyable conclusion.

Without the benefit of a massive light show, this was one gig where the music really did the talking and the band proved that the music is what really matters, not lights, costumes or other paraphernalia, all of which are very nice in their way but when you let the music speak for itself the end result is a gig such as this one which truly ranks up there among the very best performances from a tribute band that I have ever seen. Well done all round!

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