Michael Head and the Red Elastic Band: Invisible Wind Factory, Liverpool

Micheal Head

Micheal Head

Michael Head played a triumphant, sell out, Christmas party at the Invisible Wind Factory and Getintothis’ Sean Bradbury was there to take it all in.

Plenty has been written and said about what Michael Head has been and how he got to this point.

The paths his life and career have taken, the glorious highs and murky lows, the lost tapes and razed recording studios, the dangerous habits, the missed chances and the long road to recovery.

While Mick’s back story and catalogue naturally swim to the surface whenever he is interviewed or performs live, there was a fresh and different feeling at the Invisible Wind Factory on Saturday night.

From the very beginning it felt like a life-affirming celebration of what he is – right there, in the moment, on that stage, with those bandmates.

It was evident in the feverish anticipation before, the broad smiles during, the electric atmosphere throughout and most of all in the music.

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Adiós Señor Pussycat stickers have been slapped to almost every lamppost, phone box and street sign in the city in recent weeks and the record has earned glowing reviews across the board.

Nearly half of the set here came from the new album, and it stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Shack and Strands classics both in terms of pure quality and audience reaction.

Sgt Major and Stranger got things off to a lively start with a Waterpistol one-two, before an extended run of Adiós Señor Pussycat tracks showed just how strong a release it is, with Rumer, Overjoyed and Picasso making an unassailable case.

The whole gig forged the ideal balance between fist-pumping singalongs, melodies chanted back at the band long after the last chord, and more tender moments with the spotlight on Mick and a hushed reverence out in front of him.

Winter Turns To Spring was one of those poignant interludes – Mick’s emotive closing refrain of ‘peace of mind‘ hanging beautifully like smoke in the air – as well as a middle run which brought the perfect hat-trick of Byrds Turn To Stone, As Long As I’ve Got You and Daniella.

There was certainty, poise and purpose in all that Mick did. Nothing was nervy or hurried – indeed a couple of songs seemingly had to be trimmed from the list – and when The Red Elastic Band were having fun they weren’t quick to stop.

Newby Street could have gone on for an hour and nobody would have complained, Comedy came late, joyous and strident before Mick signed off with an epic, eight-minute Black & White.

It was an excellent end to special evening in the company of Liverpool’s most magical storyteller.

Images by Getintothis’ Kevin Barrett