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It Bites - Live In Montreux

It Bites - Live In MontreuxWell if you haven't got a fatted calf borrow one, but hurry up!

All you poor pale creatures languishing in the darkened corners of Progland can damned well cheer up because a new live CD and DVD of It Bites have been published.  And about time too.  And what makes this particularly satisfying for Yours Truly is I saw them on the Once Around the World tour in ‘88.  Oh yes.

Long ago My Mate Phil persuaded me to drive all the way to Redcar in Northumberland to see our heroes one evening.  The Redcar Bowl (yes, there is one) isn't as big as you might imagine but playing host to Uncle Francis and Chums more than made up for this.  Resplendent in tattered jeans and hair extensions (weeeeell..if you must) they did an absolute belter is what they did.  One or two nice set pieces featured Frank's J-Cloth cappo for sensational tapping (relates to the 'TapBoard' that he was trying to develop at the time which used the same playing technique) on virtuoso bit which he introduced as if to old mates "have a look at this and see what you think.."  And the finger-and-thumb bit in Old Man and the Angel where he leads the crowd in keeping the viciously tricky bass rhythm. I couldn't.

Other musical highlights that night included the insertion of 'New York, New York' into 'Once Around the World' just before the "crack the champagne.." section and what could have been the first airing of 'Charlie', a tribute to Frank's Dad done with a guitar, a delay peddle and a whole world of possibilities. Lovely, I'm sure you'll agree. (It reaches production on the amazing 'Eat Me in St. Louis' album. It was a sign of It Bites' success that by that time they had a cover done by Roger and Martin Dean.)

I'm listening to the CD now and was just beginning to experience that old prog thing where you wonder if it was just the golden haze of memory that made them sound so good.  Until the intro played for 'Never Go To Heaven' Oh Lordy! It's 1988 again! (Actually, all but one track on the CD was from a 1987 performance, but it invokes memories of 1988 for me) <sob>! (Forgive an old man for being such a big girl's blouse).  Driving round Glastonbury and playing OatW endlessly.  Then it's Yellow Christian and Screaming on the Beaches (and I'm reliably informed that Redcar beach is veddy cold and wet even on a Summer's night!).  Mister Dunnery then says night-nights to Montreux and offers up the chart single 'Calling all the Heroes' then finishes with 'I Got You (Eating out of My Hand)'.  On to the 1998 tour for the next bit and it's the London Astoria.  Aaand, boys and girls it's the signature 'Once Around the World' twinkling and swooshing in with all the fragrant mystique of a Somerset night. Oh me oh my!  And you remember just how good this track felt when you feel that introduction rippling up your spine once more.

On the whole I would have liked a bit more crowd sound to help the overall live atmosphere (though judging by Francis' ("don't call me Frank") comments the Montreux crowd were a bit lifeless).  On the other hand the sound is excellent. I'd be willing to sacrifice a little of one for a smattering of the other but that's a matter of taste. Which reminds me.

Now, taking your fatted calf in one hand and a really sharp knife in the other...

Chris White

It Bites


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