2014 has been a busy year for Mansun fans, despite the bands split over a decade ago. In August, 500 fans from across the globe descended upon the ‘Mansun Convention’ in Chester to celebrate their favourite band, and the event was such a huge success it was championed with a two-page feature in the NME.
One of the highlights of the event was a stand-out set from ‘Taxloss Lovers’. Taking their name from the 1997 hit, ‘Taxloss’, the band aim to be as authentic as possible to the experience of seeing Mansun perform live. Their electrifying set at the Convention attracted the attention of Mansun’s lead singer Paul Draper, who tweeted the set was ‘amazing’ and was the ‘first time I’ve been to a Mansun gig’.
The band have recently booked their first post-convention show at the Deaf Institute, Manchester on December 20th 2014. There they will be performing a selection of Mansun classics, including ‘Wide Open Space’, ‘Taxloss’, ‘Being a Girl’, ‘Six’ and many more.
With the chances of a Mansun reunion becoming slimmer and slimmer this is a rare chance to experience live versions of these amazing songs.
As well as being on Facebook and Twitter, Taxloss Lovers also have their own ‘Mansaphone’, in keeping with their desire to be as authentic a Mansun experience as possible. Fans can call 07582 338643 to hear updates from the band as well as leave messages of their own.
As part of the BFI Days of Fear and Wonder festival, Preston-based arts organisation They Eat Culture hosted a screening of family adventure ‘E.T.’.
I’m helping out with some of these events, and for this one knew that we just had to invite the film’s star himself! A friend tipped me off that local collectibles shop ‘Respawned’ had a full size E.T., so I went and spoke to Paul the owner about a possible lend. He thankfully obliged, and for the last few days I’ve been looking after an alien!
The film screening itself was a blast; participants were taken on a ‘Future Preston Tour’ of Avenham Park before entering a local school, which was decked out with E.T. related installations, including a science lab, spaceship, plastic tunnel, bicycle wheel installation and a collection of soft toys.
E.T. gladly posed for plenty of photos with children (and some big kids) at the event, and then sat in at the screening itself which took place in the assembly hall.
He’s going home today so last night I couldn’t help but take a last few photos before he leaves…
As most people that know me are already aware, I’ve spent the majority of 2014 organising the Mansun Convention – celebrating the legacy of one of my favourite bands, Mansun, who’s number one debut album ‘Attack of the Grey Lantern’ was followed by the innovative ‘Six’, and who still have an incredibly dedicated fan base despite the band’s split over ten years ago.
The event took place last month in Chester (the band’s home town) and was a huge success – over 500 people from across the world attended, and a 2 page feature was published in the NME last week.
One of the biggest moments of the day was the debut of a solo track from Paul Draper. This is something fans have been waiting years for, and was such an exciting part of the event.
Here’s a bootleg video of the track debut, introduced by ‘The Legacy of Mansun’ panel featuring Paul Lester, Catherine AD, Martin Leay and Matt Davey.
As well as organising the event I played drums with both tribute bands, Mansunesque (who I joined for their final song) and my band Taxloss Lovers. Here’s the final song we played, which features the moment that we attempted to recreate the famous ‘Taxloss’ video by throwing handfuls of (fake) fivers into the audience.
The event was commemorated by an official programme, which surpasses any previous Mansun publication – it’s full of interviews, insights and memories, and is still available at http://www.mansunconvention.co.uk/shop
Kate, Mazzie and I worked really hard on putting it together, and it has become something I’ll always be really proud of.
Also available is the Tribute album which Lomax helped me with; it’s full of bands and artistes covering their favourite Mansun songs, and is appropriately titled ‘We’re All In This Together: The songs of Mansun’.
Amazingly, Paul Draper himself attended the convention, and was soon sharing vine clips of our Taxloss Lovers set. I’m so glad he enjoyed it, and gave us his blessing for future gigs!
A lot of people have been asking me if I’m planning to hold another Mansun Convention, and the answer is a definite YES. I’m still working out the details, but keep an eye on mansunconvention.co.uk or the facebook page for announcements.
Recently I was asked to display some examples of my video editing skills, and was reminded of this trailer I cut together in 2011.
A huge Tintin fan I was eagerly awaiting the Spielberg/Jackson film, and when the first trailers started appearing I was excited by how faithful to the source material the filmmakers were. So to illustrate this (and just for my own amusement) I took the audio of the trailer and matched it with video clips sourced from the 1990s cartoon series.
When initially planning the Mansun Convention I started thinking about what would make a good photo op for fans. For example at Star Wars celebrations you can pose with characters and sets from the movies, and I wanted to provide something similar at my event.
So I thought I’d have a go at recreating the album cover of Mansun’s second album, ‘Six’, as a life-size set piece for convention attendees to become part of.
Here’s the original album cover:
The idea I had was that fans sit in place of the central figure, surrounded by real books, against a backdrop featuring the rest of the artwork. My first step, then, was to work on the banner. I cut out the parts I wanted to remove.
Then I printed this out, and used a pencil to sketch the parts that I needed to draw back in.
I then scanned this back into photoshop and used this as a guide to recreate the tiles, lion, zebra, stairs, painting, bannister, back of the TV and the hem of the nun’s dress.
Once completed I sent the artwork to www.bigartandbanners.com who did a cracking job of printing a 7 foot square banner for me. It’s huge, and just about spreads out onto my kitchen floor!
The next job was to recreate the books that are spread out on the table. I picked up a selection of old hardback books and created new dust jackets for each of them, closely matching the look of each one on the original cover.
All the books completed, along with my vinyl copy of the album:
And the final job was to write out the lyrics of ‘Legacy’ for the subject to hold.
Finally setting this up for a couple of test shots was a great experience, I’m glad to see that it looks impressive and the effect works. I can’t wait to see people using this at the convention on August 23rd!
Should Simon Pegg appear in a Star Wars movie? Find out in this episode of Droppings Science! Also Andy has a chat with Corey Dee Williams at London Film and Comic Con whilst Nick and Vic report from Manchester Comic Con. In addition the gang chat about a female Thor, the Mansun Convention, recent movies, Star Wars, ghyll scrambling and more!
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Here’s the weekly ‘OpenFerret’ podcast, featuring highlights from the Open Mic night at The Ferret, Preston.
This weeks host is former cruise liner entertainer Frank Patterson, who brings a touch of class to the evening. Also there’s poetry from Flora and music from Shaun, Sam Weaver, Josh Murrison, The Chaos Emeralds, The Jackpot Golden Boys (pictured), Michael Webster, Olly Taylor and Millie Weaver.
The Chaos Emeralds were a particular favourite, they’re a Sonic the Hedgehog tribute band and played note perfect renditions of some of the themes from the megadrive game.
At the Mansun Convention I’m organising I’ll be performing with my own Mansun tribute act ‘Taxloss Lovers’. We’ve been practicing hard over the last few months, and felt that we wanted to test out the set in front of a live audience.
I booked a night at The Ferret, and we played, supported by a solo set from lead singer Ric Birtill.
Despite the attendance of the stage invading ‘Preston Pete’ (one of Preston’s beloved locals who may as well have stepped out of that ‘Bounce by the Ounce’ video) we played to an otherwise enthusiastic crowd which included some die-hard Mansun fans.
I’ll not post the whole set list here (I want to retain some surprises for Convention ticket holders) though some highlights for me included Shotgun, Being a Girl and Taxloss. I particularly loved playing Taxloss, it’s a song I used to play along with when I was practicing my playing as a 16 year old drummer!
Here’s a video, shot by Mat Birtill, of us performing Wide Open Space at the gig:
We had some great feedback on facebook after the show; Zvilnik‘s Bobby Gormley posted “Just been to see Taxloss Lovers play their Mansun Convention warm up gig. It was phenomenal, so many great Mansun songs that I thought I’d never see played live again. Cheers lads” whilst convention programme editor Kate Ressell posted “Taxloss Lovers were amazing tonight. Couldn’t fault it at all. Well done!”
Keith Roberts (who attended the gig wearing his own home-made Kleptomania T-Shirt) posted this review on the Mansun Convention facebook page:
TAXLO$$ LOVERS warm up gig.
Quick Review (Hopefully)
Its an outsider thing.
Cant make the Convention sadly so I was never going to miss this.
I Haven’t heard Mansun music sung live since I last saw them in 2002.
I only saw them twice and if I knew they would implode I would’ve been there for many many more gigs. Im sure you all agree.
I don’t know any real Mansun fans. It really is an outsider thing and I wasn’t expecting many people.
25-30 people I guess turned up at the Mad Ferret which was just about right.
I never saw anyone in a Mansun T- shirt though which made me feel very geeky considering I was wearing one (which I hand PAINTED!).
To the music…to hear Mansun tracks being played live…
It could never be real bad could it?
To be one of two or three cover acts you gotta do it right.
Did TAXL0$$ LOVERS do it right?
Yes, yes they did.
THEY NAILED IT!!
They were absolutely brilliant.
I was reallt gutted when they finished their set. I really would’ve listened to them all night.
The set list was spot on. Taxloss was a high(er) point.
Steven Whittle (Chad) was exceptiona!l.
It really was fantastic. Ric aka Paul was a fantastic singer who did a great job reaching the highs of Paul Draper. Also he did a great warm up gig of his own material which went down very well. Hopefully he will do more in Chester.( With Preston Pete maybe?)
Andy Lyth on the drums was equally brilliant. Simon (Stove) Wright was Excellent also.
When you see these guys in Chester you will be blown away.
For me it was brilliant to hear our hard work come together, Ric really does a fantastic job of emulating Paul Draper on stage, and the set was fantastic fun to play. Roll on August 23rd!
I think Nice Peter has played Preston more times than anywhere else in the UK. My friend Ed first booked him for a gig upstairs at The Adelphi back in 2005 and since then Pete has returned each time he’s toured the UK. As such, I’ve got to know him and even performed with him a few times. He’s a great guy (as his name suggests) and one of the gentlemen behind the YouTube sensation ‘Epic Rap Battles of History‘.
Last year, in celebration of ERB Season 3 opener ‘Hitler vs Vader 3‘, I made Pete a couple of Star Wars figures which he loved (as you can see in this video), and I was keen to catch him on his latest tour. Here are the figures, as posted on the ERB instagram channel. The moustache on the Hitler figure was particularly tricky to paint!
However this year’s tour contained no Preston gig, and as I was unable to attend his Manchester show I decided to take a trip down to London to catch up with Pete, Ed and support band The Jackpot Golden Boys (also from Preston) as they played Bush Hall on July 19th.
The show was fantastic. The Jackpots’ Jim and Alex have seemingly learned a heck of a lot since they’ve been touring the US with Pete and Dante (Pete’s drummer/beat-dropper). The interaction Alex had with his audience from the very start was impressive, and the lads went down a storm in the packed venue.
Nice Peter’s performance was so entertaining; his well earned YouTube success meant that some of the audience members had come prepared (prompted by Pete on his facebook page), and before long attendees were being invited onto the stage to participate in their favourite rap battles. He works hard to ensure that each member of the audience is engaged in the show, and he is effortlessly entertaining. I’d not seen Dante before, and he’s an awesome drummer and also helped out with the rap battles if nerves got the better of some of the guest performers.
I had a great evening hanging out with everyone, if Nice Peter is playing anywhere near you, make sure you go out and see him!
This is the third episode of the Open Ferret Podcast, which this week was hosted by Olly Taylor and Josh Murrison. This episode also features performers Ric Birtill, Michael Webster, Charlotte Newman, David Shurr, Millie Weaver, Oliver, Lewis and myself (I performed my cover of Elvis Costello’s ‘Indoor Fireworks’ which you can hear 13 minutes into the above show).
If you use iTunes you can subscribe to the podcast by clicking here.
The Ferret Open Mic happens every Wednesday at The Ferret in Preston, like us on Facebook to keep up with who’s hosting next and email me if you are interested in hosting or performing yourself.
Website of musician, artist and creative fanboy Andy Lyth.