After playing in stadiums and arenas, performing alongside a seemingly infinite list of musicians, Marco Mendoza is finally let loose on his own and takes the spotlight for his first ever solo UK tour. The venue isn’t a large one, in fact the Borderline, tucked away neatly in the heart of Tottenham Court Road, London, can easily be missed by the casual tourist. Inside, however, is the perfect setting for an extremely intimate, up close and personal night of deeply rhythmic and sensual rock. Ooh-er!
First up is L.A.M.F, a Ramones-lite group who perform well enough together, but didn’t really strike me as an established-enough band; it took me a long while to track anything down relating to them on the internet and the only memorable song from the setlist was a cover of Eddie Cochran’s 1958 hit C’mon Everybody. They have a few issues with microphone audibility but they warm the tolerant crowd up enough. Bassist Justin stays on stage for the next band (the self-admitting “tribute to Free and Bad Company”) Raw Glory, who are better-suited to the overall sound of the evening. A few Free covers here and there (Mr Big, and The Hunter are covered very well) and Bad Company’s Be My Friend please the audience, vocalist Paul Manzi is quite reminiscent of Robert Plant in his wailing and warbling in parts.
L.A.M.F’s setlist included: Let Go, Born to Lose, Mystery Girls, Countdown to Love, Dead or Alive, One Track Mind, Chinese Rocks, Pirate Love, C’mon Everybody. 4/10
Raw Glory’s setlist included: I’ll Be Creeping, The Stealer, Be My Friend, The Hunter, Wishing Well, Mr Big, All Right Now, Fire and Water. 6.5/10
Marco is joined by Italian stallions Favio Cerrone and Pino Liberti –guitar and drums respectively- for the evening, and the trio humbly share their own fusion of Latino, funk and jazz, not forgetting a dash of rock on the side, after all, that’s where he’s most renowned. There is plenty of space to move about, I’m pretty sure people were dancing behind me, but it was easy to get transfixed on the marvellous work these three produced to take notice of too much else. Marco, however, addressed them like long-term friends, and such rapport is always nice to see from any reputable artist. Favio revels in the attention he gets as his rousing solos unify with Pino’s unimposing drum beats, mouthing each chord enthusiastically. Volume control is way up for bass, and the groove is felt even to the very back of the room.
Mostly performing work from his album Live For Tomorrow, it’s hard to imagine Marco being able to sing as well as he does, as he usually lets his bass do all the talking. His tones are clear and clean and generally powerful, emanating from both voice and instrument, and is capable of pulling off Prince-esque yowls and vocal harmonies. There was plenty of that tonight. Let The Sun Shine is a feel-good throwback to classic rock from years gone by, an uplifting excuse to dance, as is Live For Tomorrow, the title track of his featured album. I Feel Good was a very interesting choice to play. Marco and his “black beauty with green eyes”, or a six-string bass to you and I, threw down a bass groove so dirty even the Grandfather of Soul James Brown would have approved. Towards the end of the set came Chinatown, homage to his current band Thin Lizzy, both a worthy cover version and a brilliant teasrer of what’s to come for the present lineup.
Setlist included in no particular order: Still In Me, I Feel Good, Live For Tomorrow, Let The Sun Shine, Look Out For The Boys, I feel Good, Hey Baby, Hole In My Pocket, In My Face, Chinatown. 8/10
A video interview of the man himself is right here: https://planetmosh.com/marco-mendoza-interview-22-04-2012/