Who knew Ian McLagan was such a terrific storyteller? (If you’d read his 2000 autobiography “All the Rage: A Riotous Romp Through Rock n Roll History,” you’d have known.)
In his Twin Cities solo debut (he’s played here before with the Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Billy Bragg and, of course, the Faces) Friday at the new Belmore club in Minneapolis (in the old City Billiards), McLagan demonstrated a charming gift of gab, telling stories about Ronnie Lane, Ron Wood, manager Don Arden (father of Sharon Osbourne), Paul Westerberg, himself – just about everyone but Faces frontman Rod Stewart, whose name was never mentioned.
“I’ll be dropping a lot of names,” Mac warned early in his 95-minute performance. “As Prince Charles said to me, ‘Who the bleep are you?”
Accompanying himself on electric piano, he played a bunch of songs, too – uptempo pub rockers, a little barrelhouse, some ballads, blues and lesser known Faces tunes – singing with a cheery, raspy voice that recalled Rod Stewart’s minus the high end.
A longtime resident of Austin, Texas, he brought one member of his Bump Band, bassist/guitarist Jon Notarthomas, to help on a few numbers. At 68, McLagan still looks the part, the short, spunky piano man with the spikey hair, though it’s all silvery white now. He still likes a good drink and a conversation – a true pub man.
Mac mentioned how he long had wanted to play in Minneapolis, which brought out a brief mention of the Faces final gig ever (Nov. 1, 1975 at the Minneapolis Auditorium, 10 years to the day that McLagan had joined), a gratuitous shout-out to Prince and a long tale about Westerberg.
The first time McLagan met Westerberg was at a Replacements gig at the Palladium in Los Angeles. Saying he took it seriously because he knew Westerberg was a big Faces fan, McLagan took a shower and got all dressed up. “I’m like Mr. Clean,” he recalled of meeting the band backstage beforehand. And the Replacements were wearing “boiler suits that looked dirty. They were out of their bleeping tiny minds. Paul said, ‘Do you wanna sit in?” I said, ‘Well, have you got a piano?’ Well, no.”
McLagan’s next encounter with Westerberg was in 1993 when Paul was recording his “14 Songs” album. The pianist was invited to a recording session for the project. But, he got drunk the night before at an Irish pub in San Francisco and went to bed at 5 a.m. Five hours later, his manager calls about the session. Hung over, McLagan drags himself to the studio at noon. “I’m drunk and smelly and Paul was Mr. Crisp,” Mac remembered. “I was bleeped up. When you’re bleeped up, you can’t write a check or make a phone call but you can play the piano.”
Here is what McLagan played at the Belmore:
Hello Old Friend/ It’s Been a Long Time/ Little Girl/Little Black Number/ Warm Rain/ Never Say Never Again/ I’m Your Baby Now (I think that’s the title)/ Mean Old World/ Get Yourself Together/ Don’t Say Nothing at All /Trapped/ We Got Nothing in Common (I think that’s the title) / Sha La La La/ An Innocent Man/ Glad and Sorry (by Ronnie Lane/Faces)/ I Will Follow ENCORE Debris/ You’re So Rude