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5 May 2001 - Fishermans Inn, Littleborough

by Duncan Geddes

In this present world of synthetic, contrived pop (or should that be pap?) it's refreshing to hear a band, any band, with the talent and ability to perform live and play their own instruments, and Noddy's Puncture are not just any band, as anyone who has seen them perform will testify.

The band come across as early ELP, but with the technology to perform up to date arrangements and compositions. (Remember that before Brain Salad Surgery there were no polyphonic synthesisers or midi.)

Following the taped intro of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No3, the band appeared on stage and went straight into their usual opener, Mancini's Peter Gunn, featuring recognisable snippets of tunes such as the Pink Panther theme, but otherwise staying fairly close to ELP's arrangement. Without pausing for breath, they then went straight into Romeo & Juliet by Prokoffiev, featuring a Wakeman-ish moog solo in the middle.

Next was ELPowell's Touch and Go, which kept close to the original. (For the anoraks, this tune is based on Vaughan Williams' variations on Greensleeves.) This was followed by I'm Thinking by Rare Bird. I've got Rare Bird's original version of this, and although it's a good tune, I was never keen on the vocals. However, Tony's superior voice, and the excellent arrangement bring this song to a different level altogether. Noddy's Puncture play it as you would imagine ELP would perform it (although to my knowledge, ELP never did). Excellent Hammond and synthesised harpsichord work from Tom, combined with the powerhouse of Tony and Les make this an excellent number (OK so I like harpsichord!).

Back to ELPowell for a true to the original rendition of The Score, followed by a change of pace and a change of instrument for Tony, from 5 string bass to 6 string acoustic guitar. A nice arrangement of Affairs of the Heart, one of Greg Lake's lesser known songs off the Black Moon album, was followed by From the Beginning from the Trilogy album, with Tom performing the bass and electric guitar parts on the keyboards, creating a remarkably accurate rendition of the original.

For the next piece, Tom had the Hammond tipped back slightly on blocks, reminiscent of Steve Walsh from Kansas. The magnificent Hoedown was the piece, featuring a bit of messing about on the Ribbon Controller. This tune is a personal favourite of mine, featuring some excellent Hammond work from Tom.

Next on the cards was a medley, so I'll try and translate my scribbled notes into something meaningful. Karnevil 9 (First Impression Part 2) opened proceedings, moving into Eruption from Tarkus, evolving into America at the first Hammond break. This was the showcase for the first Hammond bashing sequence. If you've never seen this before, mere words are inadequate to describe it. Let's just say that I hope you never get Tom to move furniture for you! Rondo followed immediately. I always get the impression that the band are racing each other on this track to see who can play the fastest, and I'm not entirely sure who won. A bit of Hammond improvisation ended with a classic Deep Purple ending sequence (just listen to any Live Purple recording), then Les commenced his drum solo, with some ideas borrowed from the late Cozy Powell, such as the 1812 Overture sequence. An excellent solo that kept everyone interested. The medley came to a close with a return to Rondo (on the synths this time) and the finale from Karnevil 9 appropriately finished the piece.

Synthesised brass announced the commencement of Fanfare for the Common Man; a piece that is even familiar to non ELP fans. Fanfare formed the basis for another medley, which included The Old Castle and Blues Variation from Pictures at an Exhibition, and then more Hammond demolition, employing knives this time. This also included the party piece of Tom playing the organ backwards, with an accurate rendition of Bach's Toccata in D and a snippet of Grieg's Hall of the Mountain King thrown in for good measure. While all the Hammond acrobatics were going on, people at the front nervously edged their table back as the organ got closer and closer to them. The mayhem ended with the finale from Fanfare, the organ upended with a knife sticking in it, and Tom proudly proclaiming "I've killed it!".

The set finished with a medley of Nutrocker and Honky Tonk Train Blues.

After enthusiastic applause, the band returned for an encore of Greg Lake's Lucky Man followed by Beethoven's 9th. They usually announce this as being based on the version done by Rainbow, but I've always thought that the organ solo in the middle is more reminiscent of Jon Lord from Deep Purple. After receiving more enthusiastic applause, Noddy's Puncture left the stage for a well-earned pint or two.

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