Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Producers @ The Crossing, Digbeth, Tuesday 6th March 2012
I’m of a certain age. Not as dangerous as the one Paul Weller’s currently singing about but, you know, the wrong side of...ahem...21. Aside from, funnily enough, some of 10cc’s tracks, Mud’s Tiger Feet and anything by ABBA, my real musical awakening occurred in the early 80’s and one man seemed to be the knob twiddler behind several of my favourites, Mr Trevor Horn. ABC’s Lexicon Of Love (regularly featured in the best British albums of all time lists) and Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome To The Pleasuredome both bear his fingerprints deep within the grooves (it’s a vinyl thing). Tonight Trevor’s out from behind his desk though, joined by fellow producer Steve Lipson, 10cc’s Lol Creme and drummer to the stars Ash Soan for a joyful romp through some of their collective hits and newbies from their new band's forthcoming album.
Trevor has performing form of course, as opening number Video Killed The Radio Star (performed by The Buggles back in the day) reminds us. Back in 1979 it hit number 1 in 16 countries and over 30 years later it remains a glistening pop gem, a signpost to the glossy production that would dominate much of the following decade. Glorious. A meaty instrumental run through Frankie’s Two Tribes followed inspiring some Pavlovian head nodding amongst the older members of the audience, a mix of students from the college (The Crossing’s a top notch purpose built venue with South Birmingham College) and people old enough to be their...well...grandparents probably.
Tonight wasn’t just about past glories through, Producers are currently putting the finishing touches to their debut album Made In Basing Street and, several cuts made it on to the setlist including the gloriously bombastic Freeway. With distinct hints of one of Trevor’s old bands Yes in there it’s a rich, full fat prog pop classic. There’s everything in there, it’s as if the band has looked back over their collective careers and condensed it down to into 5 fabulous minutes.
Assuming vocal duties on a number of tracks this evening are three excellent singers, Kirsten, Kate and Holly who at various times took the lead on Video Killed The Radio Star, Grace Jones’ Slave To The Rhythm and 10cc’s I’m Not In Love as well as recreating the Horn produced (literally and metaphorically) anthem for girl on girl action t.A.T.u’s All The Things She Said. Pop heaven.
Not sure if they’re session musicians or if they have their own thang going on but they’d make a great group on their own. Get on it Trevor.
10cc’s Rubber Bullets and The Dean and I also got well appreciated outings, with Lol somehow hitting the high notes nearly 40 years after he first sang it. “Real throat shredders!” he observed ruefully.
Time for another newbie, The Garden of Flowers, “From the new album” announced Trevor proudly (not the first time he’d bigged it up this evening).
“Keep plugging it” said Lol “We made it in Trevor’s studios too, Sarm West”
Ever the businessman Trevor couldn’t resist a “Still open for business!”
“I can’t afford it” added Lol. Ha! LOL indeed.
In contrast to Freeway, The Garden of Flowers is a more sophisticated piece with Lol’s guitar playing conjuring up the spirit of Fleetwood Mac era Peter Green in places, before Springsteen-ish bursts enter the mix. Eclectic, but it really works.
For the second (but not last) time this evening the band then revisited Video. This time in its will.i.am/Nicki Minaj incarnation, with Trevor adding, from his mouth at least, the incongruous but hilarious “Check this motherfucker out” at the end. Oh yeah. H to the O to the R to the N.
Boys just wanna have fun, whatever age they are, so the encore saw them cover Bowie’s Space Oddity and Tears For Fears’ Everybody Wants To Rule The World in fine style. It’s in the spirit of their early ‘pub band’ aspirations but oh so much better than that. They’re having fun but, crucially, it’s high quality fun at the same time.
It’s a mark of just how down to earth and humble these blokes are though (don’t forget they’ve collectively sold the odd 100million albums or so) that they gave the last number over to one of the kids from the college. Step forward Alex Bibbs who blazed through the third version of Video this evening. That’s not a bad entry for the old CV.
Producers’ debut album, Made In Basing Street, is out in May.
For more Producers related stuff check out the interview with drummer Ash Soan below!