I managed to get to see Ian at the Cine Bar in Rayners Lane. Quite a venue - an old Art Deco cinema which has been converted into a very upmarket music venue - with armchairs, leather sofas and Lots of Bouncers (I'm told they have had to smarten up their act after they had quite a lot of trouble). Although with most of the audience well over 30 and probably more comfortable in a suit these days I doubt they had enough to do. It was quite a small stage however - they couldn't get Ian's piano on so there were some songs he couldn't do.
There were I guess about 3-400 people there, it would have held more but it was respectable, although the layout meant it was a bit difficult to get the same sort of atmosphere as there was at the Empire in the Spring. Ian seemed very relaxed, I suppose coming to the end of a tour, and quite chatty. The band are much more together than they were and look like they enjoy playing together too.
As I was supposed to be somewhere else I arrived just as the band came on stage, about 9.15. The set order was:
Then, after a pretty good long set, he provided one of the most bizarre encores I have ever witnessed! Basically asking for requests, they did Walking with a Mountain, The Moon Upstairs and Cleveland Rocks. He then sat down with the acoustic guitar and said "you say I'll play", as a result of which we got one verse of something I didn't recognise until he said "no, it's alright in a studio you can go over it, but this is going to be too high", one verse of Standing in Your Light (he couldn't remember the chords), half of the first verse of Sweet Jane (couldn't remember the words), one verse of Laugh at Me and one of Central Park and West. This was all very informal and I guess an indication of his apparent relaxation. Looks like the band are going to have to learn more of the old repertoire. He refused requests for Memphis ("no piano"), Violence (I'd like to have a go at that, it would be a laugh") and a few others.
Then a full version of Michael Picasso and All the Young Dudes, followed by a sign off to one verse of Saturday Gigs ("Goodbye"). All in all the encore took about 45 minutes and I got out of there about 11.30.
So, yes, a good evening. Reading some of the reports on Adrian's site it sounds like Ian is having trouble getting enough audience however, despite the quality of the music. But I suppose that's the way it goes. The guest list for the Cine Bar has quite a lot of bands on it which I used to go and see as a teenager and who would draw 2000 easily then. But unless these bands can get the attention of the younger generation it's probably the way it has to be.
The Cine Bar is a newish venue in NW London, it being in a converted cinema. I missed the start of the support band's set, having stayed in the main bar chatting. The Flame were a competent five-piece rock band (vocals, two guitars, bass, drums) who, it seems, have just been signed by Polydor. Trouble was, the charisma just wasn't there. I don't think the vocalist looked at the audience once.
And so to Ian's set. What can you say when you've run out of superlatives? How can you try to be objective when Ian delivers a brilliant set, only to top it a few days later? Like a fine wine Ian just keeps getting better and better. The main set was the same as before, but there was no piano for Ian this time, so he didn't do Memphis in the encore. Instead, Ian just asked for requests.
We got Walkin' With A Mountain/Rock 'n' Roll Queen and we got The Moon Upstairs (both performed by the entire band, as back in May). We got a few lines from Red Letter Day, Central Park 'n' West, Sweet Jane, Laugh At Me, Daylight, Standing In My Light... Ian was clearly enjoying himself. A request for Irene Wilde was turned down ("I can't play the same stuff every night, ask for something else"). Violence was met with a chuckle ("...need to think about that one").
Finally on to Michael Picasso, Dudes and Saturday Gigs and it was over. Ian remembered the band credits this time, and acknowledged "you're only as good as your band", a nice compliment I thought. I hope rumours of a tour next year come to fruition. I also hope Ian keeps this band together, for the next album and for the tour, as they certainly work well together. Can't wait...