‘Don’t miss this... it’s a line-up you may never hear again’ - The Manfreds interview ahead of Cromer show
PUBLISHED: 15:44 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:44 30 September 2019
Ahead of their show in Cromer, Martin Hutchinson speaks with Paul Jones - the vocalist from The Manfreds.
Originally formed in 1991 to celebrate guitarist Tom McGuinness' 50th birthday, The Manfreds show no sign of stopping.
The band is made up of four members from the original Manfred Mann who had hits with Mighty Quinn, Pretty Flamingo and Do Wah Diddy Diddy among many others.
Guitarist Tom McGuinness, keyboard player Mike Hugg (who formed the Mann Hugg Blues Brothers in 1962 with Manfred Mann), and original singer Paul Jones, are all part of the band today - along with Marcus Cliffe on bass, Simon Currie on sax and flute and Rob Townshend on drums.
The band had a sell-out tour in New Zealand earlier this year, a tour which put a smile on singer Paul Jones' face.
"It was terrific!" He tells me. " So well organised and really enjoyable."
Paul has been on the road for over fifty years, firstly with Manfred Mann, then as a solo act, then in musical theatre and now as a 'Manfred'. He also tours with The Blues Band with fellow Manfred Tom McGuinness and as a duo with fellow Blues Band-mate Dave Kelly.
With such a hectic schedule I wondered if there is a secret to keeping his voice in prime condition.
"Well I warm up before a show as one is supposed to and I've got exercises that I do."
"To be honest though, I only started to do that in the late 70s when I went to a vocal teacher."
He continues, "Back in the early days I sometimes misused my voice, and if that happened I just screeched my way through a show. There were so many girls screaming that nobody noticed."
"But when I went into musical theatre I realised that there was nowhere to hide, so I started seeing this vocal teacher which lasted through to the late 80s, and I'm very grateful to that teacher."
Paul laughs. "I also started going to a dance teacher, but he didn't have the same success with me."
For the tour, the band has had to make some changes, as Paul explains.
"Yes well, keyboard player and founder member Mike Hugg, and our drummer Rob Townsend are both hors de combat. So we've brought in Mike Gorman, who played on bassist Marcus Cliffe's new album on keys, and the excellent Frank Tontoh on drums."
And apparently Frank has a Manfreds' connection.
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"That's right. A few years ago we released an album called Uncovered, which was an album of cover versions. One of the tracks we did was Sunshine Day which had been a hit for the band Osibisa. Frank's dad was in Osibisa and co-wrote the song."
And what can we expect to hear on the tour this year?
"We have a couple of new things. There's a feature tune from sax player Simon Currie from his new album, and bassist Marcus will be featured on a song from his new album - a Curtis Mayfield song called People Get Ready."
"How Lucky Can One Man Be is a song from Tom McGuinness's latest album and there'll be one from my current album Straighten Up And Fly Right which was written by Nat 'King' Cole."
"The rest will be pretty much all Manfred Mann songs, but probably a few more obscure EP and album tracks as well as the hits."
"Also, there'll be the odd song that we never recorded in a studio, but did on the radio."
This is no doubt prompted by the recent release of four CD's of radio recordings by the Jones era Manfred Mann, the Mike D'Abo era Manfred Mann, Manfred Mann Chapter Three and Manfred Mann's Earth Band.
Even with the band's vast catalogue of hits, Paul can still pick out a few favourites.
"Well, because I wrote them, 5 4 3 2 1 and The One In The Middle. I'm very fond of those, but also Smokestack Lightnin' because it's the Blues and right up my street."
"I also admire Oh No Not My Baby. Mind you if we had been allowed to write more I might have had a different answer."
The Portsmouth-born singer is looking forward to the UK dates.
"We shall attack them with gusto and some musical expertise."
And he has this message.
"Don't miss this. Firstly because it's a line-up you may never hear again and we fire off each other."
"And secondly because we look really stupid when there's no-one there. What's important is the people who are there."
- The Manfreds will be bringing their hits, jazz & blues show to The Cromer Pier Pavilion Theatre on Friday October 4.
- Tickets are available for £25 from Cromer Pier's website or via the Box Office on 01263 512495
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