Bluetones - Manchester Academy 2 -  24.11.06

With Bluetones singer Mark Morriss spending most of the last 12 months touring the country on solo acoustic joints the rumour mill was in full swing. Was he going to do a Rick Witter or Crispian Mills and form a new band or was he to follow Brett Anderson and John Power and launch a full on solo career? You see these are the rules and precedents of the Brit Pop era, but in Morris's case its simply rejuvenated the career of the Bluetones who have not only released the best album of their career since their debut, but also put on the best gig of their career since this correspondent saw them on that early double bill with Supergrass.

Most bands at the same stage of their career as the Bluetones plays to diminishing returns, but tonight is the bands busiest Manchester gig in years packed well over the venues true capacity and showing signs that it wont be long before they can sell out the Academy 1 next door. Although there doesn't seem to be any younger fans making an appearance with much of the crowd being late 20 / early 30 something males it's a different audience from when gaggles of girls used to scream down the front at the peak of their career.

From the plinky plonk of "Baby Back Up" through to the best song that Oasis never wrote with "My Neighbours House" these are songs that are better than most of the Britpop 2 bands such as The Kooks or Razorlight. Live their newer material does really shine as brightly as the older classics such as "Cut Some Rug" and "Bluetonic" and it's to the bands credit that they've stayed true to their own vision rather than trying to emulate the contemporary scene. Interestingly it's "Keep The Home Fires Burning", a paean to the old days, that was the song that broke their back in media circles but looking back in retrospect it's one of their best songs they've ever written being simple at the same time as having an immense depth to it.

With "Solomon Bites The Worm" and "Are You Blue Are You Blind"? book ending the set and "Solomon Bites The Worm" and "If" in-between the songs speak for themselves. For the past few years the quality control on the Bluetones output hasn't been up to scratch but the old adage that you're only as good as your last song proves well with the bands biggest gig in years off the back of their best album in years. Long may it continue

Alex McCann

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