The Bluetones, Rock City, Nottingham, 30th April 2016
The first support came from local band The Ruffs. Singer Connor Spray looks like Stu Macher from Scream, but thankfully doesn’t appear to be the murderous type, especially when it comes to his songs.
A band whose music is firmly rooted in the traditional indie style, they are a cross between The Verve and Oasis with endless natural energy for their on-stage endeavours. Strong, distinctive vocals are at the forefront of a set of catchy tunes that make your feet tap involuntarily.
It’s clear that some of the crowd know and love this band already, and they get an excellent reception all ‘round! Much deserved, I say.
It was very pleasant to see Dodgy’s Nigel Clarke wander onto stage armed with his acoustic guitar. Even better was the realisation that his voice hadn’t wavered over time and that the crowd was up for joining in.
Nigel performed some of his solo tunes and upcoming new songs from Dodgy, promised for release later in 2016. I doubt he could have got away with not playing some much-loved older songs – “In a Room”, “Staying Out for the Summer” and “Good Enough” transposed well to one man and his guitar.
The collective mood was immediately lifted, and the audience were enjoying being 20 years younger again!
I shall commence with a confession. I’ve never seen The Bluetones live before, despite being a consistent listener and lover of their music for the past 21 years. I did see Mark Morriss do a brilliant, intimate solo gig in Stamford a few years back, but have always felt that I missed out big time on seeing the band back in the day, so when the second leg of the 20th Anniversary Jukebox Tour was announced I was 100% determined to be in attendance, no matter what.
Walking out onto stage, it struck me that none of the guys seem to have aged at all, which adds to the feeling of stepping back a couple of decades in time. Having said that, although this is something of a trip down memory lane, it doesn’t feel entirely like reminiscence as the music is still hugely relevant and wouldn’t be out of place as a new release – these are songs that stand the test of time.
Frontman Mark Morriss has an irresistible charm and audience-deprecating humour which does the opposite of alienating, it merely brings about another level of affection directed from the floor to the stage.
Selecting songs for this particular jukebox must have been joyful yet difficult with their prolific back catalogue to choose from. They ended up with the perfect mix of the more obvious songs that the punters would hope for along with some of the lesser-known tracks such as “Fast Boy”, “Never Going Nowhere” and the very beautiful “Tiger Lily”.
Multi-faceted guitarist Adam Devlin really colours in the songs with his intricate, craftful six-string skills.
What I love about The Bluetones is the indie jollity and the fact there is none of that brash Madchester vibe to go with it. There is a certain sophistication to this band, enhanced by elements of The Mutton Birds, The Monkees (particularly Pleasant Valley Sunday) and gentler moments of The Jam.
After “Firefly” came a tribute to Prince as the guys slotted “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” into their set. This was preceded by a short speech from Mark about enjoying while we’ve got while it’s here, with the band’s merch stand as an example… cue much laughter!
In conclusion, and in the deliberately sarcastic words of Mark Morriss himself, this gig was “quite nice”.
Talking to Clarry
Are You Blue or Are You Blind?
Cut Some Rug
Keep the Home Fires Burning
Sleazy Bed Track
Never Goin’ Nowhere
Carnt be Trusted
Solomon Bites the Worm
I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man (Prince)
The Simple Things segueing into Express Yourself (Madonna)