Proud Mary - Manchester Apollo - 7.4.02

Legend has it, that if you walk through the cobbled streets of White Chapel, East London at around midnight you will often hear the faint cries of "Mary, Mary" blowing in the wind. Mary O'Riley, or Proud Mary to her friends, was an often overlooked character in the Jack The Ripper story of the late 1800's and if the story is to be believed she worked throughout the day as a humble cotton spinner covering up her well hidden secret that she worked the streets of an evening. And that's how she got her name, Proud Mary. She never actually admitted her true vocation to a soul and walked with her head held high with the absurd believe that everyone thought she was simply a working class cotton spinner come good.

Of course, if you believe that you'll believe anything, but it beats recalling the tale of how Proud Mary were saved by Noel Gallagher as they were on the verge of a split, signed them to Sour mash records and then went on to sell approximately 500 records. Tonight on home turf for a rare Manchester show, the band are support for alt-country superstar Ryan Adams (who later covers Oasis' "Wonderwall" alongside a version of the Strokes "Last Night") so by a simple mathematics equation they can potentially sell more copies of their debut on the basis of tonight's gig than they've sold in the past 9 months.

Vocalist Greg Griffin was born to walk the stage with his preacher man love affair with the golden tambourine, lifting up to the heavens and down to the depths of deepest hell. Ploughing the same sort of retro rock treaded by the Black Crowes and dipping in the fountain of the Stones, Neil Young et all, they wear there influences on their sleeve right down to the cover of the Rolling Stones "Salt Of The Earth". Its a song which suits them well, for although they may have images of riding in a pick up truck down highway 69 there more likely to be heading down the Mancunian Way in a dodgy escort. Its still a universal message of love and good times with songs like "Very Best Friend" and "All Good Things" sounding like lost classics from the vaults.

Supporting Ryan Adams has been their best move yet and proves that if you keep at it the good will out. It may take another couple of albums to really achieve a dent in the charts, but with UK garage and electroclash making such an impact there is going to a core older audience who simply want their music to rock & roll.

Alex McCann

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