Bluetones - Manchester Academy - 8.12.01

After an 18 month hiatus you could call tonight's gig a "slight return" to remind everybody that the Bluetones still exist. Although they've released three albums and have been around for years now they are most fondly remembered for arriving on the scene when the Britpop phenomenon exploded in 1995. As well as Blur verses Oasis and flash in the pan bands like Menswear and Powder, the Bluetones were gentler and less in your face than their peers and had a massive number two smash with "Slight Return". The half empty hall i'm standing in tonight is a sad reminder of a band who may reached their peak too soon, but who cares when their back catalogue is this good.

Mark Morris is looking chipper in a bow tie and still remains the most amiable and charming man in pop today bar none. He may not be the worlds greatest mover but bless him, the lads trying his best and is having a ball doing so. The hits are played back to back and there's plenty of them. "Solomon Bites The Worm" still sounds fresh and vibrant and "Bluetonic" is a trip down memory lane. "Sleazy Bed Song" sounds sordidly decadent, melancholic yet charming in a way only the Bluetones could get away with. Marks vocals are a lot stronger and he's a lot more comfortable than he used to be.

This isn't just a cost nostalgic retrospective though. We get to hear some new songs which will be out in the Spring on the fourth as yet untitled album. "Persuasion" is typical Bluetones - melodic, slightly rocky with insightful lyrics. "Dumbing Up" takes a sly dig at the squeaky clean image of manufactured bands and the whole Pop Star / Pop Idol mentality. We also get to hear a fantastic instrumental which has a 50s feel but with a contemporary delivery. The band encore with the Walker Brothers song "Sail On Sailor" and finally finish with yet another single "If". So while it feels great to hear all the classics its good to know The Bluetones still know hoe to write great songs like the new ones on display tonight. They recognize their past, know about the present and judging from tonight have a lot more to offer in the future.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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