An ambitious celebration of over 30 years in the business
Date: November 27, 2019
Venue: Rock City
It’s become something of a trend for bands to tour an album in its entirety, and we were promised not one but two golden oldies on this tour. But when The Wonder Stuff released new album Better Being Lucky this year, only their 9th record in more than 30 years, why not tour that album? But it is exactly 30 years after their second album Hup, so perhaps now is the ideal time to celebrate it. But to then chuck in their debut album, The Eight Legged Groove Machine – also in its entirety – it’s questionable, AND ambitious.
Rock City is where this ambitious and potentially heart-attack-inducing and throat-mangling tour begins, and for many in the crowd, the evening begins at the ridiculously early time of 6:45 by virtue of the demand to see former Carter USM frontman Jimbob. He draws a big crowd, chugging through acoustic renditions of Carter’s finest moments. It’s a sing-song ding-dong but it can’t last – the Wonder Stuff have at the very least 35 songs to get through – and that’s just the two albums!
But before that, they begin with five songs from the new album, and they’re already eating into their allotted time. “It’s weird seeing so many blank faces stare back at me”, admits Miles Hunt, still as shaggy-haired as ever, “but I guess you don’t know the songs”, he confesses. Then, after those five newbies, they take a 20-minute break! This curfew is gonna get smashed.
When they return, they begin with the Hup album. But something’s not right. The song order – if we’re going by the album track listing – is off-kilter. No one seems to mind, though, and when Miles proclaims that “this next one invented country and western” before the barn dance-pop of Golden Green, the crowd couldn’t care less about track listings.
It’s not until Don’t Let Me Down, Gently, though, that the crowd really wake. But when they do they remain a frenzied pit of 40 somethings in throwback heaven.
Hup’s songs come and go, so it’s onto debut record, the Three Legged Groove Machine, and again it’s the singles that get the bouncing to another level. It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby, Give, Give Give me More, More, More, Wish Away and Unbearable all sound as fresh today is they did in 87, augmented by Erica Nochalls’ exquisite violin prowess.
It may not quite have been as billed; no album was played in its entirely, but it would be churlish to complain because, they are, in the end, still wonderful stuff after all these years.