Tim Bowness, Improvizone & Nerve Toy Trio @ Band On The Wall

Tim Bowness, Improvizone & Nerve Toy Trio @ Band On The Wall

Tim Bowness, Band On The Wall, Manchester, 8/9/15  

Anthony Firmin goes to see a Tim Bowness gig and witnesses a great electric teenage dream


Tim Bowness doesn’t tour much so it was a surprise when I saw this gig listed and with a band line-up containing some seriously good musicians along with some interesting support, it was bound to be a fine evening.

First on were localish instrumental proggers Nerve Toy Trio.  With a set cut down to about 20 minutes it was going to be tricky to get a handle on the band but for the couple of dozen people who saw it, most were highly impressed with their King Crimson-esque jazz and prog sounds.  They are well worth checking out.

The second support band was Andrew Booker’s Improvizone.  For this performance he used members of Tim Bowness’ band along with the guitarist from Nerve Toy Trio, Tony Harn, who already has connections through his collaborations in No-Man. Improvizone played just one piece that, as is with all their material, was completely improvised and in true prog style lasted about 25 minutes. Starting off with some echoey fretless bass from Colin Edwin, backed with a slow drum beat from Booker the piece combined ambience, repeating rhythms and loops as it ebbed and flowed sweetly along with some pleasant guitar noodling on top.

By the time Tim Bowness arrived on stage the audience had swelled to about 50 people but for those who were there, they were to witness and awesomely intense performance. The band opened with Great Electric Teenage Dream, Bowness looking comfortable in his role as singer on stage.

The set was a tour de force of material primarily from his two solo albums with several No-Man songs included for interest including Time Travel In Texas and Housewives Hooked On Heroin, the latter divisively loved and loathed by No-Man fans. Both songs came across as fiercely as prog can with Bowness at his most animated, almost having a punk/new-wave look of steely determination; his stance at the mic stand sometimes making him look like a cross between Ian Curtis and John Lydon. The rest of the songs were dripping in melancholy and vitriol, and delivered with equally as much passion – The Me I Knew and Smiler At 50 being the standout items for your reviewer.

Nerve Toy Trio drummer Howard Jones joined Bowness on stage for the encore, another No-Man song, All The Blue Changes, their collective history dating back to the mid 80’s when they last played together. An interesting culmination to an extraordinary evening of music that stretched across the whole gamut of Prog.  Miss this man at your peril next time he plays in Manchester.

Images & Words: Anthony Firmin

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