Manchester Drum Show 2015
It was a quiet morning and the approach to the George Carnall Leisure Centre near Trafford Park seemed strange for such a high profile event. Things changed rapidly when you entered the main doors, greeted by two lovely females with smiles and cartridge loads of free earplugs. It was all a pleasant surprise and earplugs or not the sounds emanating from the hall melted into off beat and hard rock and not a mess at all to the drumming believers and the enthusiasts starting out.
It is rumoured that the late Buddy Rich use to throw musicians off the bus if they played poorly. Well I can say from experience that I played on one of his old snares once and it sounded crap. That’s because I was playing it. But here's where the catch comes in: Great players can make a bag of spuds sound great. Again we can bark on about technique and there’s nothing wrong with mastering it but the great players for me play well to music and they are the best listeners to other musicians they are playing with. This is essentially where the drum kit settles itself and players being dependent on other musicians to make the drum kit come alive.
The Manchester Drum show isn’t about just selling and advertising the new additions to drum kits and hardware but it is a testament to all out there who love drums and drumming. With all the new music on the scene and electronic sounds and percussion used on albums alike a drum kit for Christmas is still a big favourite and for those who can get passed the bleeding hands of practise. It isn’t just for Christmas but for life. One lovely lady, Kathy, who was following her husband down to the gig said that she was "getting into it" and that hubby commented "you can’t have enough snares".
The show ragged with talent and the drum clinics helped us to believe that. Being a drummer as well as taking the photos I couldn’t help but be distracted with drums that sparkled with light on them and two power monsters on the world drumming scene. Earlier the drum show taught us the lesson that age before beauty and those two combined hit the show in the teeth with the dexterity and maturity of many formed players with young Dillon Harrison who flew around the kit echoing Tony Royston Jr’s early years. It’s a testament to my earlier point that drumming is still alive and the youth of today reminding us so. Thank god our mums used sewing machines not just to keep us in trousers but to let the early invention of the foot pedal (particularly the Ludwig Speedking) that this all comes together.
The first of our giants Gabour Dornyei entered the arena and sat at a kit which would knacker you putting it together. He later remarked that he didn’t need all the kit to play well but he played the kit in front of him like ten men. This was well executed and beyond all our expectations. What a treat to the listeners in a packed audience. Gabour used samples to emulate those from his album Drums Music and Friends which having listened to it several times, because it is addictive, works on the Erskine, Smith, and Gadd benchmark, with the lovely mix of latin, jazz and heavy double bass drum tom foolery. His technique in a live sense makes you weep with great awareness of musicality. Gabour playes like he is built like a body builder with power and swift touch but to look at him when he is playing he resembles someone sitting in his office answering his emails.
We were entertained in lots of ways with our second clinician the great Robin Guy who has toured around the world playing with and sessioning with musicians and bands. Robin was different in that he gave us some spectacular solos and used sound tracks to show a very powerful and expressive style. In each interval between playing for us Robin was comical and looked at the funny side of drumming and touring with bands which I felt was a fresh approach. Robin showed us many of his inventions which he used to help him with his live playing ie the drum tuning key attached to a long spring which was tied to a piece of hard ware. There was also a homemade drinks holder which reflected the days ‘Blue peter’ and any programme on telly that helped you produce the likes of a Telescope made out of bog rolls. Robin had all this in his armoury which gave a human touch to the side of what he described as being ready for any situation in front of a 30 thousand crowd. Personally I would have my own commode strapped to my seat in front of that lot. Maybe I should talk to him.
Like any true professionals the giants had time for Jack climbing the beanstalk and welcomed all for signing and a chat. Gabour was flying off to Norway and Robin started working with his sound technician and important guy Lee, ready for the next adventure.
Don’t give these guys a miss or the next time the show bursts into life.
Keep it live. Drumming lives.
Words & Photos: Frederick Apps (Wayne Shotton)