10cc live at The Royal Albert Hall, London
By Paul Davies.
The multi-tracked whispered refrain of "be quiet, big boys don't cry"
reverberating around the classically shaped internal dome of the Royal
Albert Hall probably transported most of tonight's middle-aged
sold-out audience back to their youthful salad days of the mid-70s
when I'm Not In Love topped the UK charts for two weeks - yet seemed
to linger for much longer in the minds of most of the assembled
psychic jukebox's - and was the final smooch song of the night at UK
discos up and down this green and pleasant land.
In fact, this now Stewart/Gouldman seminal song had a very troubled
birth and was almost ditched by the band until Kevin Godley suggested
the multi-tracking of vocals and the rest, as they say, is history.
And history is what founding and only original surviving member Graham
Gouldman is lovingly curating with his ongoing 10cc tours of the
artful, mind-expanding, progressive and quirky popular songs that this
best of British band created.
Tonight’s thrilling performance was, in fact, a first-hand
demonstration of the art of songcraft. Having in their arsenal an
impressive songwriting range encompassing the cerebrally surreal,
kitsch wit and epic art-prog rock, as opening big hitters Wall Street
Shuffle and Art for Art's Sake revealed.
This followed an on-screen projected film of Neanderthal Man directed
by former band experimentalist extraordinaire Kevin Godley. Later in
the show, Godley re-joined the band, from the backstage projection, to
sing Somewhere In Hollywood as the band played from the front.
An envious back catalogue, that whilst containing even more memorable
back in the day Top 40 hits such The Things We Do For Love and Good
Morning Judge, was expanded upon by the epic cinematic musical
narrative of I'm Mandy, Fly Me or the neurotic notation of Clockwork
Creep - a first-person narrative song about a bomb on a plane - and
the awesome art-prog graphic detail of Feel The Benefit.
Playing tunes as sophisticated and detailed as tonight's set-list
requires musicians of very high calibre, who can interchange with
instrumentation and harmonise vocals to pull off these exquisite
studio productions and Gouldman has assembled a stellar cast of fellow
Joining him are band stalwarts guitarist Rick Fenn and drummer Paul
Burgess - both have been in the 10cc live band since the 70s - Keith
Clayman on keyboards and guitars and most impressively
multi-instrumentalist and vertiginous vocalist Iain Hornall who,
whilst busying himself between guitars, percussion and vocal duties,
unveiled new 10cc song Say The Word, co-written with Gouldman, which
slotted in seamlessly with the monumental music of this grand art-rock
The two back to back epic compositions I'm Not In Love and I'm Mandy,
Fly Me preceded tongue firmly in cheek cod reggae Number 1 hit set
closer Dreadlock Holiday. A three-song set closer whose broad sweep of entrancing songcraft harked back to a glorious era of boundless
And as if that wasn't enough, an encore including an amusing acapella
take by all members on Donna and a rabble-rousing rendering of their
first Number 1 hit Rubber Bullets shot out of the slightly iffy
sound-mix to fire everyone out of the doors to, in the words of Mandy,
reflect: "Just like a rollin' stone. I'm outside lookin' in" on a show
that was at times breathtaking between the collective gulps for air.
Royal Albert Hall 2019