In the aftermath of our latest disappointing World Cup performance, us Brits have to take solace in some of our finer exports, and for many our nation’s ability to produce great music continually appears at the top of that list. Firmly cementing their place in that illustrious history are 10cc – the hugely successful, talented and innovative 70’s band primarily consisting of Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme that conjured up mega hits like Dreadlock Holiday, The Things We Do for Love and Rubber Bullets. With their knack for writing great riffs, poignant and often humorous lyrics, experimentation with sound effects and powerful harmonies they are often credited with taking on the mantle from a certain Fab Four following their separation.
The most notable era of the band’s brief but significant recording history was between 1972 and 1976, which saw the four original members enjoy enormous popularity with albums such as How Dare You! and classic singles like the sublime I’m Not in Love and the seminal I’m Mandy Fly Me. Following this point in the band’s complicated history, writing duo Godley and Crème departed to pursue other interests, primarily directing music videos in the advent of MTV, and were responsible for many iconic promos of the 80’s such as The Police’s Every Breath You Take and Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Two Tribes. Gouldman & Stewart continued to write, record and perform as 10cc for another 20 years until Stewart also hung up his guitar in 1996.
As a result of these departures, the evolution of the band’s line-up is now somewhat reminiscent of David St. Hubbins observation in the film This Is Spinal Tap that ‘37 people have been in this band over the years’, with Gouldman serving as the sole custodian of 10cc from the original line up. However, he is very capably supported by Paul Burgess and Rick Fenn (drummer and guitarist who both joined in the 70’s) and more recent recruits Mike Stevens and Mick Wilson (keyboard/percussion/vocals). It’s an approach increasingly common to bands with a long history when their studio days may be largely behind them but for whom there is still an insatiable appetite from their loyal fan base to hear more live performances (the successful recent tours of The Beach Boys and Barry Gibb are other examples). It is in this context that 10cc show they still have something to offer. The roll call of hits speak for themselves and it’s a joy to see Gouldman compere the event with first hand insights into the creation of the tracks. He has surrounded himself with a talented group of musicians over the years that effectively reproduce the unmistakable sound of the original line up – no mean feat considering the talent involved at the time and highly-produced quality of the original studio recordings.
Ultimately, concerts of this nature are designed as something of a nostalgic look back at the tracks of our youths, and I would gauge that the audience for 10cc in 2014 are largely parents who grew up buying their LPs and their kids (like this reviewer) who recall the tunes on the car stereo on family trips back in the day. But when you have five talented musicians on stage belting out Art For Art’s Sake, Good Morning Judge, Life is a Minestrone and a fresh take on Donna with a lively audience singing along, there’s nothing wrong with that. 10cc commence their 2014 UK tour at British Summer Time in Hyde Park on Sunday the 13th of July.
10cc rehearsal gig at Brooklyn Bowl – the 02 Arena, 27/6/14
Words > Roy Swansborough