LIVE REVIEW: Man and the Echo, Gaz the Poet, Bobby Benjamin @ The Green Room, Stockton (02.03.24) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Man And The Echo first came to my attention when a friend included their song Distance Runner on one of his (always excellent) mix CDs for me, but this is my first time seeing them live – and I’m ashamed that it took me so long.

Unusually, the show is opened by two spoken word artists with very different styles. Bobby Benjamin is all about the confident delivery and thought-provoking imagery of North East towns and their issues, while Gaz the Poet has the crowd onside from the start with his self-deprecating humour and verses which veer from the serious (male mental health) to the silly (his neverending love affair with expensive trainers).

For this acoustic tour, Man And The Echo perform as a trio with a drum machine standing in for usual percussionist Joey where needed. Still, their tunes demand the tapping of toes while their wry humour and astute lyrical observations about the state of the world raise regular smiles throughout.

With subtle swipes at MPs and toxic masculinity through the medium of dry wit and infinity catchy choruses, their older songs sit perfectly among tracks from their excellent new EP, Dead Centre. Playing The Long Game insists on a crowd singalong where the choir would be and it’s impossible to pigeonhole their sound as they traverse through indie, disco and soul, with moments akin to Ben Folds Five, Field Music, The Divine Comedy and more. There are funky basslines and three-piece harmonies to die for, and frontman Gaz’s gloriously baritone voice is as pitch perfect as on record.

If you like your music to be socially critical with a side of irreverent humour and a dash of calypso, then Gaz, Fush and Chris (and Joey) are definitely the band for you. 

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