The Professor was back in his home county of Fermanagh here upstairs at Charlie’s, Enniskillen, with his trio fresh from touring in England including Oxford venue the Bullingdon pub and on the continent. There’s also a new live album Live Along The Highways documenting this formidable unit that has been together for some years and it is a real tight fit. Drogheda bass guitarist Marty McDermott, who also set up the sound, chatted to me briefly downstairs earlier bringing me up to speed since I last heard the band (2015 also saw the release of the album Blues Train to Irish Town in the interim), before heading up for the support slot taken by rising star local singer/guitarist Conor Phillips whose heartfelt acoustic set sprinkled originals with covers of songs by Bob Dylan and others that soothed the room.
McManus is a superb guitarist, that needs to always be said when talking about him. His style is an amalgam of Gary Moore – and the set included a version of Moore early 1990s classic ‘Still Got the Blues (For You)’ – Jeff Beck and even Jimi Hendrix and he actually played his Strat behind his back at one point as if in homage to Jimi.
Ever the showman and supported by the excellent time keeping of Dungannon drummer Paul Faloon (sporting the word ‘drummer,’ in an outbreak of wit, on his T-shirt), Pat’s vocals blended beautifully with the rock solid McDermott on backing harmonies when he doubled up.
Celtic rock, the blues, finger point tip tap accuracy and dazzling fretwork wizardry, it is all there and more at a McManus band gig, and there is a visceral power in what they create. Hear this band live if you get a chance as they are refreshingly real in an often artificial world. SG