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The Faces @ Polo Rocks!

March 13, 2012

First published July 2011

The Faces, Polo Rocks! Hurtwood Park Polo Club,

Mick Hucknall? Mick Hucknall?? How can it be that the two best gigs of 2012 thus far have featured the spiral-haired Simply Red serial shagger? Yet at both the Ian Stewart tribute at the Ambassadors and now fronting a rejuvenated Faces, Mick Hucknall has proved himself a soulful and understated vocalist and an effective frontman.

The audience at this outdoor gig was clearly divided between polo fans and Faces fans, each with their own strict dress code. Relations between the two tribes were generally good, although the presence of picnic chairs and wicker hampers directly in front of the stage caused some consternation as the band bounded on stage just after 9 o’clock on a fine summer evening somewhere on the Surrey/Sussex border. This version of the Faces comprised Ronnie Wood on lead guitar, his son Jessie on unobtrusive rhythm guitar, Ian ‘Mac’ Maclagan on piano and organ, Glen Matlock on bass, Kenny Jones on drums (it’s his polo club) and the aforementioned Mick Hucknall on lead vocals. Traditional opener Miss Judy’s Farm was followed by the band’s mission statement Had Me A Real Good Time. At this point the sound man responded to the many shouts of “we can’t hear the vocals” and from this point on the gig developed its own momentum.

Ronnie Wood dedicated songs to the memory of Amy Winehouse and to Ronnie Lane. The latter was ably represented by long-term Faces fan Glen Matlock who not only plays like Lane but even stands like him, sideways-on and leaning back into the microphone. Ooh La La and (especially) Debris honoured Lane’s contributions. Mick Hucknall handled covers of I’d Rather Go Blind, I Wish It Would Rain, Maybe I’m Amazed and (I Know I’m) Losing You beautifully. As usual the latter contained Kenny Jones’ drum solo, which was mercifully brief. Mac shone on his co-written Cindy Incidentally, a prescient Silicone Grown and a driving Too Bad. Ronnie showcased his veteran black-and-silver Tony Zemaitis during a slide solo framed by the ancient Plynth and incorporating snatches of That’s All You Need and Mona. Sobriety has sharpened his playing considerably and this was the best performance I’ve seen from Ronnie since the Stones at Wembley Arena in 2002.

The encores were special. Two blasts of vintage Small Faces (a mighty Tin Soldier and an All Or Nothing that was 95% audience participation) were capped by a fine Stay With Me which was as compulsively un-danceable as ever and sent everyone home with a grin. These Faces will make you dance sing and do any old thing.

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