Monday, 02 July, 2012 - Modified on Monday, 02 July, 2012 at 11:00 am
Although it’s their association with Manfred Mann that brings them together, The Manfreds offer audiences a night packed with great songs, played by fantastic musicians.
This week, in the final part of our interview, Mike d’Abo discusses being part of The Manfreds and looks back over an amazing career.
There must be a great dynamic with The Manfreds, especially with both yourself and Paul in the band?
Well, we did our first gig in 1992, so it’s 20 years we’ve been at it. Sadly in those years we lost Mike Vickers but we’ve still got Mike Hugg, Tom McGuinness and Paul and I certainly know how to compliment one another and trade off each other. I always regard him as the main attraction, I’m the side show slightly, he’s centre stage. What I think is unique about The Manfreds is that there are the two original singers and so people are getting good value for money. They’re also getting a guaranteed 20 hits. Paul had 8 hits, I had 7 and wrote 2 hits, Tom McGuinness was part of two hits with McGuinness Flint and Paul had a solo hit or two, so there’s 20 songs at least that people will be familiar with. How many groups from the 60’s can today say that they’ve got that amount of original personnel and can say they’ve had that amount of hits?
I know this isn’t Manfred Mann per se but would you regard this as the best version of the band?
Yes, without a doubt. Paul and I sing better than we did in the 60’s, everyone plays a lot better. The songs are the same, they’re authentic but they’re not clone like reproductions. The band is almost certainly better than anything we did in the 60’s, the difference being though when you’re at the height of your fame and everyone is screaming and shouting and you’re the flavour of the month, it’s easy because you can be as good or as bad as you like! People will still say, we went to see Manfred Mann and wasn’t it great? But now, we’re sort of all knocking on a bit, the average age has got to be 60+, some have even reached the big 7-0 in fact three have! But, we’re all on the top of our game and it’s like we’ve got our lives hopefully under control, everyone’s pretty fit, pretty healthy and the audience get a good trip down memory lane.
You’ve obviously had an immensely successful and varied career. If writing ‘Handbags and Gladrags’ had been the only thing you’d done, that wouldn’t be a bad legacy on it’s own would it?
It wouldn’t. I do feel a little confused sometimes when people say I can’t believe you wrote that. I wrote it when I was 22 and so must have got some divine inspiration and I always acknowledge that. On the day that it all came to me I felt like I was being given some divine intervention, a little bit of help from me but a lot of help from the almighty above. But, I find it very hard to fill a room! When I advertised ‘An Evening with Mike d’Abo’, and I used to do it as a trio, we were hard pressed to get more than 30 or 40 people through the door. So although I feel I’ve managed to establish a career with named recognition, mainly through Manfred Mann – oh Mike d’Abo didn’t he take over from Paul Jones – that kind of thing, most people don’t know that I play keyboards, are quite pleasantly surprised when they hear me sing, so I feel a bit confused.
Although I’m proud of that song, I think the nearest to me would be Ralph McTell who wrote ‘Streets of London’. But he can pack 2 – 500 people in because they know they’re going to get a folky experience with that as the highlight. I don’t seem to have quite established a following or identity, I know what I want and I want more recognition for what I’ve done and for that song but a very small amount of people seem to be aware that that’s me y’know? A lot of people actually say oh wasn’t that written by Rod Stewart?
A lot of people actually think that it’s a Cat Stevens song! Cat Stevens is somebody I admire hugely and I knew him very well. So I don’t think I really registered with my singer/songwriter persona the way I wanted to. So, the Manfred Mann is a very useful identity for me to have because it enables me to make people aware of the other strings to my bow.
If you piece everything together that I’ve done, it does amount to something of substance. I wouldn’t deny that. But if you can sense from this conversation, there’s still more that I want to get out, achieve or fulfil before my time is up!
Village Times would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Mike d’Abo for agreeing to do this interview.
Next week look out for our exclusive guide to the Festival.
Brewood Music Festival takes place between Thursday 12th July and Sunday 15th July with The Manfreds and The Move headlining the Festival at St. Dominic’s School on Saturday 14th July. Tickets are available from The Swan and The Mess in Brewood and also from the Festival website – www.brewoodmusicfestival.co.uk
For more information on the Festival check out our ‘Things to do’ page and calendar at www.villagetimes.co.uk/things-to-do.htm.
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