One of the most respected guitarists in the business, Pat McManus, is a master at his craft. From his early days with brothers John and Tommy in Mamas Boys onto his work with Celtus, countless session work and the Pat McManus Band since they formed in 2007, The Professor has been a consummate performer. Seemingly constantly on the road, the live arena is where he’s at his finest, the dazzling displays of fretwork and his distinctive voice that mixes his Northern Irish twang with a whisky-soaked rough edge, winning fans all over Europe and further afield.
Pat McManus Band – Live in France (The Store For Music)
Release Date: 7 July 2023
Words: Paul Monkhouse
With a number of live albums already under his belt, this most recent release is a welcome addition to the canon. The development of the band is like a fine wine and gets better with age. Armed with some new songs and now joined by bass player Plunkett McComb alongside longstanding drummer Paul Faloon, the trio find themselves playing to a sold-out audience in France, a country that has embraced them as passionately as any.
A career-spanning set, the album is a great condensing of their usual two- and half-hour set, cherry-picking some fine moments from the night and bringing them together as a prime example of just how tight these three road warriors are as a unit.
With Mamas Boys songs ranging from the later material of Don’t Look Back In Anger (a totally different song, written well before Oasis came into existence) and classics Straight Forward and Needle In The Groove, both of which have a ZZ Top feel, old fans will be more than happy.
Also featured is a phenomenal take on the Gary Moore and Phil Lynott standard Parisienne Walkways that sees the guitarist hold onto one sustained note for the time that it takes other bands to play a whole song. A Celtic-infused Belfast Boy is a flavoursome rocking romp, and the new track Honey Trap shows there’s plenty more gas in the tank.
Displaying his skills with the fiddle, something that has been reckoned to surpass even his incredible dexterity on the guitar, a romp through a traditional set provides its own fireworks. A bonus track where he once more picks up his fiddle to join Uncle Bard and the Dirty Bastards on Ring Of Fire is great fun but seems a little spurious considering the wealth of his own material to choose from.
These two comments aside, there’s just so much to enjoy here, and with the metronomic powerhouse groove of Faloon and McCombs bubbling bass providing rock-solid support, McManus’s playing is never less than dazzling and full of a genuine feel that comes from years dedicated to his art.
“I have been travelling around this globe for over forty years,” McManus told us. “The great bonus given to musicians is the friends we make along the road, and I am blessed to have seen so many of those friendships endure.”
Whilst this may not be quite as good as experiencing a show in the flesh, it’s still a great addition to his canon and a great starting point for anyone interested in discovering one of the most talented figures in the business and his crack band.
He may have turned down the chance to join both Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy, but Pat McManus is his own man, and Live in France shows that he’s got a great musical legacy all of his own.
Straight forward, no looking back indeed.