10CC @ Astor Theatre gets 7.5/10

10cc @ The Astor Theatre

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


While 10cc technically formed in 1972, the original band members had been working together since the mid 60s, rendering them operational for over 50 years. It’s always a gamble seeing a band past their perceived ‘heyday’. Will they be able to hit the high notes? Will their sound be congruent with their past 50 years of classic records? Will they still be worth seeing live despite the fact not all original members and songwriters are present?

For 10cc this was absolutely the case. Their audience might be ageing, but young and old alike enjoyed the several classics that the band had in store for them.

The five band members currently making up 10cc entered on stage and began with a resounding Wall Street Shuffle followed by a magical 70s progressive rock inspired introduction to Art for Art’s Sake. Following this, relatively new frontman Iain Hornal revealed that a misheard radio announcement by songwriter Eric Stewart gave the title for Life Is a Minestrone which was performed with faithful dedication.

The original band members of 10cc were multitalented musicians, and the current line up is no different to this. Original bassist and core songwriter Graham Gouldman operated as the glue that holds the band together with lead guitarist Richard Fenn and drummer Paul Burgess, who have both been touring with the band since the 70s, still in tow. The chemistry on stage and long-term friendship between them is apparent with many lighthearted, humorous quips, memories and laughter permeating their performance throughout the night – something that was clearly welcomed by the audience. Considering the band are named after male secretions (10cc being, 10 cubic centimetres of semen, the considered point of an enviable amount of semen, measured at the point of ejaculation) light humour was of no surprise.

Iain Hornal, a new addition to the line up (joining in 2018) stepped in as band frontman and operated as a lively youthful replacement for Eric Stewart’s vocals. His liveliness, stamina and energy were a noticeable addition to the band. Iain emulated Stewart’s vocals seamlessly in tracks such as I’m Not in Love and Rubber Bullets. Hornal technically covered three original band members’ vocals (Stewart, Kevin Godley and Lol Crème) and did so exceptionally well. Keith Hayman who has been with the band since 2006, predominantly on keys, was able to capture an array of diverse sounds including the reggae-inspired vibes for Dreadlock Holiday. Hayman also took to the stage on bass, percussion and stood centre stage on guitar to maintain the riff for Silly Love.

It appeared all members were able to adapt to any instrument, often swapping guitars with one another interchangeably. Even Hornal’s enjoyable track Say the Word (co-written with Graham Gouldman) encapsulated the 10cc sound well and followed the trend of all band members maintaining songwriter status.

While 10cc operate as an intricate studio band (I’m Not in Love famously underwent 620 takes and 3 days locked in the studio, just for those harmonious backing vocals), they were able to translate their meticulously crafted tracks to the stage with deceptive ease. Silly Love, I’m Mandy and Fly with Me were electric in their performance, possessing progressive undertones and a symphonic quality. By the time the encore took place, audience members were invited to stand and dance. The room came alive as everyone boogied on down to Rubber Bullets to finish.

Surprise performances included an unexpected live rendition of Clockwork Creep – an eccentric vocal track depicting a conversation between a bomb and the plane in which it resides: “An insight into the weird and wacky minds,” Rick explained regarding songwriters Eric Stewart and Lol Creme. The track must be exceedingly difficult to execute well live, given its vocal nature, quick rhythm and fast-paced ‘tick-tocks’ designed to create the ambiance of the explosive environment of the 70s, a curveball track for sure. During the encore, the ensemble performed an acapella version of their first single from the 1970’s  Donna. They banded together intimately in a pastiche version of a barbershop quartet.

Overall, it wasn’t just art for art’s sake but given the band have works spanning 60 years, they recreated their masterpieces with honour, raw skill and absolute class.

Words and Photos by GISELLE NATASSIA


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