Gig Review: Argent - Manchester Academy - 27/1/12

AFTER a break of 37 years, all four original members of seventies rockers Argent were back on stage and performing their greatest songs.

A section from the ethereal The Coming of Kohoutek from their fifth album Nexus led into the wonderful it’s Only Money Parts One and Two.

That set the scene for the rest for the rest of the evening, as the very best of Argent was thoroughly enjoyed by the discerning audience (Rod Argent’s words).

As could be expected from such accomplished musicians, the renditions were exemplary and there were few slip-ups that can sometimes beset the first gig of a tour.

The four band members seemed to be enjoying reliving those memorable songs, with smiles from all involved.

Despite being the first to leave the band back in 1975, singer/guitarist Russ Ballard was in his element as he produced some magnificent guitar work throughout the show.

The rhythm section of bassist Jim Rodford and drummer Bob Henrit provided a solid framework upon which the melodies were hung.

Not surprisingly though, it was the keyboard artistry of Rod Argent that really stood out, his solos were musical works of art, even though he used a bare minimum of only three keyboards.

The set list reflected the pick of the first five albums by the band, and concentrated on the rockier side of the band’s output rather than the more Proggy material.

Hence we only had the snippet from Nexus, their most progressive album, but the rest were more or less equally featured.

Favourites like Keep On Rolling, Rejoice, Be Free, Sweet Mary and Liar all built up towards the climax of the evening.

She’s Not There, a hit by The Zombies - the band that gave birth to Argent was followed by a Russ Ballard number that Colin Blunstone had a hit with, but the backing was by Argent – I Don’t Believe in Miracles.

Then following a quirky Irish jig on the guitar by Ballard, the quartet launched into arguably his most famous composition, Rainbow’s Since You Been Gone; which it has to be said, surpassed the original.

Of course, they saved the best to last with Hold your Head Up, complete with the enthusiastic crowd joining in with gusto and a mind-blowing keyboard solo, which left everyone breathless.

And the anthem that is God Gave Rock And Roll To You. “We did it first.” said Rod, alluding to the version by Kiss.

It was an all too short set, but the quality made up for the quantity with brilliant performances all round.

It is unlikely that this line-up will tour again and we select bunch were honoured to have been present at such a concert.

Argent certainly gave rock and roll to us on this night!

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