The band that never stops touring toured again. You have to give them credit. No matter how few albums they sell, they just keep on going. That can only be a good thing.
Date: April 22, 2010
Venue: Rescue Rooms
Some of you reading this will have been intrigued and hence enticed by the headline of ‘The Bluetones, Rescue Rooms Review’, perhaps believing that this once cherished Britpop rough diamond had died out long ago.
But the truth is The Bluetones have been happily – yet stealthily – beavering away ever since they hit the dizzy heights of Britpop stardom back in 1996, when ‘Slight Return’ grabbed everyone’s attention.
Perennial tourers, these ‘Britpop Survivors’ – to blatantly flaunt an over-used adage – are touring their latest record, the soon-to-be released A New Athens, their 6th studio album.
The band have constructed a vast arsenal of songs that are capable of etching happy smiles upon their fans’ faces as they reminisce about mid-90s indie through a soft-focus haze.
But, after ‘Soloman Bites The Worm’ has served up a warm Tex-Mex meal of twanging guitars and a Tequila-driven slinky baseline, lead man Mark Morriss is quick to point out that the gig won’t just be a spiritless gallop through their back catalogue, and that they’ll “bombard” the audience with the fruits of their recent labour.
Thankfully, the new crop sound impressive, and the advent of each one is warmly received. While they point to an edgier direction, they still possess the typical and inherent Bluetonic elements: chiming guitars, rhythm, soul and a bulging vulnerability, with Carry Me Home being a particular highlight.
But, in fairness, there’s no denying it’s the songs of yonder which is why this gig is so well attended.
“Cut Some Rug”, demand the hungry crowd. “Sleazy Bed Track”, cry the ravenous throng. But they’re omissions, as are ‘Marblehead Johnson’ and ‘Are You Blue Or Are You Blind?’.
But while those gleaming indie nuggets are conspicuous by their absence, ‘Bluetonic’ and ‘Slight Return’ are resurrected with electric euphoria, even if the latter – which has clearly become a real burden for the band, and which they’re reluctant to play – is alarmingly toyed with.
“Shall we do it normal or mess about with it?”, Morriss asks his band mates, somewhat rhetorically, before lazily sauntering into a calypso-tinged reggae version which – oddly – actually works! But surveying the vacant expressions and wry smiles within the crowd, they cut it short and, to everyone’s relief and joy, play it how it bloody-well should be.
‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’, ‘4-Day Weekend’, ‘After Hours’ and ‘Mudslide’ all follow; all songs that deserve to live on in the physical realm and not just in the dark recesses of the minds of the now 30-something Britpop devotees.
Fittingly, ‘If’ ends the set – its rumbling, meandering baseline throbs like the still beating heart of Britpop; its coda of ‘Na Na Nas’ taking everyone back to those halcyon days of the mid-to-late 90s.
For those who refuse to let the Britpop embers die out, The Bluetones are still proof positive that bonafide guitar-based indie music is relevant in this day and age, and the 90s aren’t that far away afterall.