I'm pretty familiar with Steve's work, having seen him live a couple of times and having a few of his albums, but I knew less about Mr Manring (no, we wasn't in Dad's Army). I had heard that he was an iconic figure in the bass community (yes, there is such a thing). This blog post indicated he was something special, so when I heard they were playing together in London I reserved a ticket at Round Midnight.
The venue is a conveniently short walk from Kings Cross. I was surprised at how small it is and, unusually for a music venue, it is not in a basement and has windows to the street on two sides with late shoppers looking in. I settled with a beer and a burger on a cast-iron bar stool and waited for the music to start.
Steve was up first playing some of his tunes that I know and a Bruce Cockburn cover I didn't. It's amazing the textures that a single player can build up with skilful use of effects and loops. Then Michael joined him and they jammed for a while. It's mesmerising to see two top musicians playing like that. There didn't seem to be much eye contact, they just do it by ear.
After a break Michael returned to play his own music and it was amazing. There are some musicians who just seem to have complete mastery of their instrument to make it do whatever they like and he is one of them. The use of harmonics and his Hyperbass's levers to change tuning made for a unique sound. I know he played Selene and Helios. The latter was one of the most amazing performances I have witnessed.
The show ended with another duet and ended with the audience wanting more. Steve promised they would be back next year, but I think they might need a bigger venue.
Someone was videoing the show, and using some arty angles, so that may appear on-line at some point. Meanwhile, Benjamin Ellis has uploaded some great pictures and Steve posted some recordings of a previous gig that may give you a flavour of it.
I was thinking back to how I caught on to the whole solo bass scene. It started when someone lent me a crappy bass to see how I got on with it. I decided I want to stick with guitar, but whilst trying to learn some tunes I found various sites, such as TalkBass.com, and then found some podcasts by solo bass player Jeff Schmidt. I think it was via one of those that I found Steve Lawson and got to know him a bit through discussions on Twitter. He really like to engage with his audience and it obviously worked with me. I'm sure I'll be going to more of his shows.