“Unbearable” (Live) By The Wonderstuff
Back in the late 80’s, the Indie scene had lost its sense of humour, it was full of pale, miserable tortured young poets who wore long Macintoshes and hid beneath their fey, floppy fringes in a look that seemed to combine a maudlin Colombo with Brideshead Revisited. Their music alas was often a joyless, pretentious exercise in existentialist morbidity, and well, a wee bit up its own arse to be honest. Enter The Wonder Stuff, a bunch of unruly long haired lads from the Midlands who wrote snarling, witty acerbic pop songs and didn’t really give a flying “fook” what people thought. Fronted by Miles Hunt, an outspoken young fellow who appeared to have mastered John Lydon’s maleovlant stare down to a tee and who took great delight in playing the press at their own game, it seemed this was just what the doctor ordered. At last we had a band who weren’t “arch” art school poseurs but smiling assassins filled with cynicism and armed with a clutch of catchy, sarcastically witty indie pop/rock songs, a band who were about to bring a splash of colour to the depressingly monochrome late 80’s music scene. After a string of singles they unleashed an irresistible debut album “The Eight Legged Groove Machine”. It was an instant classic, even the NME gave them a 9/10, and the band undertook their infamous “Groovers On Manouevres” UK tour in order to promote the album. I was there all those years ago at the dawn of time and do you know what? They were f**king fantastic live. It was the first of many Wonder Stuff gigs I was to attend over the years.
Fast forward to 2009, tonight’s show at Liverpool Academy is part of a string of dates to mark “The Eight Legged Groove Machine’s” 21st Anniversary. The “Stuffies” may have lost a number of original members,( Rob “The Bass Thing” Jones sadly died in July 1993 and drummer Martin Gilks passed away in April 2006) but the line up still includes founding members Miles Hunt & Malc Treece. The band arrive on stage without a word and immediately launch into the albums opener “Red Berry Joy Town” which is greeted with enthusiastic howls of delight from the audience who are definitely up for it and here to enjoy the night. ” No, For The 13th Time” follows at break neck speed as does “It’s Yer Money ” as Miles sings “Forget Your Heart It’s Your Bank I Wanna Break/It’s Just Yer Money I’m after Baby”, rather fitting given the recent banking meltdown. The set continues and the years haven’t diminished the bands energy or indeed Miles snarling sarcastic stage presence, and strewth ! Hasn’t Martin ” Fiddly” Bell aged well? I don’t remember him being that attractive during the “Hup” years. My mistake, as I suddenly recall that Bell is still resident on Uncle Miles’ naughty step after throwing his toy’s out of the cot a number of years ago. Happily his boots have been more than filled by the elegant, classically trained violinist Erica Nockalls, resplendent in a glittering gown that was golden, not green as she joins the band on stage.
“A Wish Away” provokes another moshing frenzy from the audience, and “Unbearable” sees the crowd go, well… ape-shit, for want of a better word. ” I didn’t like you very much when I met you “snarls Miles through his teeth, eyes glittering with malicious glee as the crowd respond in time honoured fashion with “And now I like you even less”. As the band seek sustenance from their on stage drinks of choice ( bottles of red wine) a cretinous oaf (erm, well, me actually ) shouts “Come on Miles, play fair, lets have “Dizzy” to which Miles responds “Did some c*nt just shout play” Dizzy? ” As the set progresses he also gives us the background to a number of songs, for example “Mother and I” must be one of the few songs in pop inspired by professional Scottish midget and sometime comic, Ronnie Corbett “Look I was young, it’s not about me, it was actually inspired by the sitcom “Sorry” ok?” explains Miles.
At times I feel I have been transported back 21 years through some sort of musically induced worm hole… but not for long. I soon realise it’s not 1988 , nor am I amongst skinny, featherweight teens and I am brought crashing back into 2009 as a balding middle-aged mosher, weighing at least 20 stone lands directly on my foot. Coincidently “Poison” is just starting and as I hop about in no small amount of agony I hear Miles snarling the mantra “Nobody wants to get hurt, nobody wants to hurt anybody“. Yes, yes, but tell that to the demented sumo who seems intent on using my foot as some sort of spring board for his “idiot manoeuvres”. I hobble away cursing this klutz but am soon revived as the encore includes “Groove Machine” era B-sides including Hunt’s tribute to the moon faced, man-voiced, Rick Astley AKA God’s Own Tea-Boy. “Astley In the Noose” has always been a crowd favourite but apparently it’s not one of Miles’ as he informs us he “F**king hates it” and has often thought of updating it to include that “vile creature, Robbie Williams”.
Another encore and the band proceed to play some of their own personal favourites such as “Circle Square” and “Golden Green” which Milo announces was ” the time when we invented Country and Western”. The evening draws to a close with the inevitable “Size Of A Cow”, “the song that made us pop stars” sneers Miles, who really seems to be enjoying himself. Once again the crowd dance and mosh wildly as I carefully avoid the psychotic sumo whose face I note, has turned an alarming shade of puce and who is now leaping about once more indulging in more of his “moves” with all the grace and agility of an arthritic Hippopotamus with constipation. But hey, he’s having fun. We all are.
The Wonder Stuff were always a great band live and tonight’s set proved they are as good as ever, here’s to the next 21 years eh ? Now that would really be “far out.
“Astley In The Noose” By The Wonder Stuff
“Unbearable ” (Live) By The Wonder Stuff