Mark Burgess

Manchester, 1993

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Released as a limited-edition teaser for Burgess' 1994 American jaunt, Manchester, 1993 captures a live date with him and the touring lineup of the Sons of God, which, in fact, features none of the performers on Zima Junction. The best known member, unsurprisingly, was drummer John Lever, Burgess' bandmate from Chameleons/the Sun and the Moon days. Rounding out the lineup were three performers from other U.K. acts -- guitarist Neil Finn from the Thin Men and, from Wonky Alice, bassist Karen Leathem and guitarist Yves Altana, who would become Burgess' key collaborator over the remainder of the 1990s. The lengthy tour mainly concentrated on Chameleons songs for the still-rabid hardcore fans of the group along with some more recent Burgess tunes, a balance demonstrated on Manchester, 1993. Eight of the ten tracks are Chameleons classics, and while the Sons of God can't quite hit the admittedly high performance standards of the original band entirely, all members put in a strong effort throughout, with Lever naturally recreating his old parts with vigor. Burgess is in fine voice throughout, remaining the strong performer he always has been. A ripping "Swamp Thing" starts off the set, Burgess' opening "Can you hear the thunder?" line as dramatic as when he said it on Chameleons dates, the band able to provide the combination of crunch and epic passion the song demands. Other Strange Times cuts "Soul in Isolation" and "Caution" get strong readings as well, though perhaps the best overall performance appears on "Second Skin," with Burgess at one point importuning the audience to step back to prevent a gig goer from being crushed. The two Burgess solo originals played are "Refugees," given a solo acoustic rendition as on Zima, and "Happy New Life," at last benefiting from the soaring full performance it always deserved.

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