The Bluetones - The Mill (Preston) - 24.10.03

With Shed 7 having just announced they are to split at the end of the year and Gene and Echobelly lost in action, The Bluetones remain as the only true under-achieving indie guitar band around at the moment. With chart success a thing of the past, The Bluetones may be playing slightly smaller venues this time around, but this has just strengthened their spirit and reinvigorated their drive. Bounding on stage the band have adopted a rockier sound in keeping with their criminally ignored new album, a back to basics approach first witnessed as early as 1995.

A likeable, affable and naturally easy going frontman, Mark Morris is genuinely pleased by the welcoming reception his fans greet him and his band with. His voice is on top form and his relaxed demeanour and smooth delivery is a joy to behold. Adam Devlin strums, plucks and glides his fingers up and down the guitar making it look so effortlessly cool in a way Johnny Marr and Bernard Butler have mastered to a fine art. New songs fit as snugly as a glove alongside the more familiar tracks which to be honest are modern classics. "Marblehead Johnston", "4 Day Weekend" and "Can't Be Trusted" make for a trio of songs The Bluetones play which have a melodic, witty and subtle sense of urgency. They even play a song about how every home should have a gimp.

As a live band The Bluetones have stripped down their sound giving them an edginess and rawness, but as always the pop rock sensibilities shine through. "Bluetones Big Score" was a new track on their singles collection and tonight is only the second time they've ever played it, but it's epic, soaring atmospheric theme could indicate a live favourite on future tours. "Slight Return" is next and the crowd go crazy in a frenzy of nostalgic longing to the days of Britpop. Mark Morris then informs everyone that he disapproves of crowd surfing as the pretty ones at the front accidentally get kicked as bodies fly over the barrier. "Just do it at Linkin Park gigs" he instructs half jokingly. "Turn It Up" from new album "Luxembourg" ends the gig and a sparkling, fresh three minutes it is too.

The Bluetones may never recreate the dizzying heights of the top ten again, but the dedicated, loyal fan base who turned up tonight will always be there to support them.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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