Live Reviews

  Hercules Mandarin, Pete Shellard and Bruce Nicol live at MacSorleys in Glasgow

A welcoming smile. Or at least it would have been a welcoming smile if she had any teeth. Then again this is Glasgow and you should be thankful for what you get. Bluesbunny ventured into MacSorleys to point his big fluffy ears in the direction of Hercules Mandarin, Pete Shellard and Bruce Nicol.

We recognise the wiry frame of Pete Shellard straight away. He has become something of a permanent bridesmaid filling in at the last moment on many occasions on the live circuit in Glasgow. The Bluesbunny was quickly recognised and - to add some sport - he offered to change his name for the evening. Nevertheless, Pete (or George, his adopted nom de plume for the evening) always manages to impress especially with his neat and commercial song writing ability. He also does a somewhat surreal line in inter song banter that makes you wonder if he likes living on the edge. An Englishman in New York is one thing. An Englishman in Glasgow is hardly likely to experience anything resembling mercy. He makes some witty remarks about the suitability of two of his songs as part of a boy band's repertoire - "Dreaming of You" and "I Miss You". The worrying thing is that he might not have been joking. They are just the kind of slick, commercial songs that would sound right at home on the radio and are guaranteed to get the "kids" humming along. Time for Pete to look for a publishing deal, perhaps?

Next up is Bruce Nicol. Looking and sounding like a true veteran of the pubs and working men's clubs of this land, he settles in easily. Starting with an oddly paced cover of "I Only Wanna Be With You" and continuing with some humorous ditties like "Totally Natural Blonde Blues" and "Southern Belle", he made us think fondly of seventies' icons like Mike Harding and Jasper Carrot. He, in fact, made us feel quite sentimental about times gone by.

Last act of the evening is Hercules Mandarin. The Bluesbunny has heard him before but this is the first time we have heard his full band. Are we disappointed? Most certainly not. The band has that polished sound that was reminiscent of the god Sting when he was trendy. His vocals hold up well in "Rollover" and "You Could've Read My Mind". We should not forget the rest of the band either. They look and sound like they are enjoying themselves and the Bluesbunny has to admit that he is impressed. They don't get introduced but that was probably an oversight. That means that we do not even know the name of the fiddle player. The Bluesbunny has no fondness for fiddles but her magically understated yet effective contribution made all the difference to this band's sound. Songs like "A Convenient Distraction" and the closing song "The Shivers" have more of a Scottish flavour to them but Hercules obviously knows which side his bread will be buttered on. An album is to be released shortly and, if tonight's performance is any guide, it will be one to hear. As those two chubby chaps who used to do the movie reviews on the telly used to say - two thumbs up!

It is that special time of the evening. Bluesbunny heads out the door to once more reacquaint himself with the joys of fried food.

Review Date: August 21 2007