I once broke down in Mansfield. It’s just off the M1. I was driving home from a stock car racing meeting and had to sleep in the back of my minivan in a garage forecourt.
I’m sure you were desperate to know that (not) but I wanted to add some context because while I suppose the ex coalmining centre of Mansfield isn’t a bad town as English towns go and is famous for a successful English Olympic standard swimmer (there are few of those) – Rebecca Adlington, also glam pop icon Alvin Stardust, most of Ten Years After, and Sir Richard Leese, who to be fair helped transform Manchester into the greatest city in the UK (sorry London), I don’t think I’d name a band after it.
That’s what Christian Stage did though, and he has an interesting history for himself. In his youth he lived in Dublin as well as in the North of England where he travelled around performing in bars and at youth clubs and schools. Who knows, I might have chanced on him myself somewhere.
Mansfield the band was formed in Copenhagen in 2015 when Stage, guitarist Mathias Havelund, bass player Mathias Wedeken and drummer Filip Gulløv, met.
Focusing on their song writing strengths they signed a record deal with indie label DME and in May 2020, the band’s debut album ‘Star-Crossed Lovers’ was released.
They sought to merge contemporary rock with the legendary 1960s Liverpudlian ‘Mersey Sound’, delivering catchy blunt-lyriced songs with plenty of toe-tapping energy.
Also in the influence mix from the 1960s is Motown, along with latter-day Britpop and post-Britpop bands like Oasis and Travis. It’s funny, I’ve reviewed several Britpop style Nordic bands, and they’ve all been from Denmark, which seems to be the last outpost of the genre. It must be something in the Carlsberg.
They also perpetrated a ‘cool’ look although the most recent one (see photo) sits somewhere between Take That, The Stranglers and The Buggles. Christian Stage reminds me of Dr Brian Cox, the TV astronomer/broadcaster and erstwhile member of D:Ream, who thought that things could only get better.
So that’s quite an eclectic mix. But enough of the preamble. What do they sound like here?
‘Chasing after you’ is from the recently released EP ‘Come Rain or Shine’ which was written during the pandemic and al the baggage that carried.
Those influences I mentioned earlier hit you straight away, like a pint pot thrown by Liam at our kid, but inside a 1960s pub and the guitar riffs distinctly reflect the earlier era.
The band’s PR suggests that Christian Stage channels Morrissey in his vocal presentation but on this track he invoked an image of Peter Noone of 1960s Manc beat rock band Herman’s Hermits. Clearly he’s into something good. (Google it).
It’s a fascinating melange of two historical styles from another country, relocated and brought up to date and it works.
The video that goes with it is interesting, too. His girl having texted him a ‘Dear John’ in a launderette, I was expecting the central character to take his kecks off and throw them in a washing machine in the way of the infamous Levis TV advert but instead our Adam meets his Eve sat on one, complete with sensuously-devoured apple but of course the story doesn’t end there and not all is as it appears.
I managed a quick listen to the other EP tracks (c’mon man, it’s Friday night, I’ve got to get to the pub, too). ‘London Riots’ sounds as if it might take off into a punk anthem but in fact it turns out to be more of a ballad and there isn’t a riot in sight
Meanwhile, ‘The nature of a troubled mind’ has The Smiths written all over it in the title. While the lyrics are in that style too, musically it’s in the manner of the sort of song Genesis used to sing just after Gabriel left and Collins took over on the mic.
I’ll definitely be coming back to this EP. There are a multitude of influences and the more you listen the more you’ll hear. But at the same time Mansfield haven’t just copied older styles, they’ve reworked them into something that is definably there’s.
In the meantime I suggest the Nottingham town gives them a blue plaque on the Town Hall or something, for keeping it in the international spotlight.
The EP is available on all streaming platforms now, via record label DME.
Later this year Mansfield will perform at The Cavern Club in Liverpool. I doubt they are only going to Liverpool but I don’t know of any other UK dates yet.
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