The Wonder Stuff @ The Empire Middlesbrough 11th April 2013

There’s an episode of The Twilight Zone called “Kick the Can”, where a group of pensioners are transformed back to being children whilst playing their favourite childhood game. A similar experience occurred in the Empire Theatre when The Wonder Stuff played to, rather ashamedly, a three quarter full crowd. Middle aged clientele adorned in check shirts, jeans and Doc Martens were treated to a show that dared to challenge the truth that it`s been twenty five years since we first heard of the eight legged groove machine from Birmingham. Admittedly there`s only two legs remaining from that line up, but those limbs are attached to Miles Hunt so a good time was looking like being on the cards. The band`s current line-up has a visual bric-a-brac quality with possibly the most disinterested looking bass player since Bill Wyman left his old band, standing alongside the incredibly elegant violinist, Erica Nockalls.
Live however the band`s sound has lost none of the tightness and edge which marked it above its peers a quarter of a century ago. What has changed however is that Miles appears to have developed a warmer and more optimistic personality. Whether telling the crowd “I`m about to say those dreaded words ‘here`s some songs from the new album’ ” or informing us that he no longer has the physique necessary to carry off the wearing of spandex, this was a mature and experienced lead singer. Previous tales regarding keeping neighbours awake by playing hip hop and guitars at full blast have been replaced with tales of watching “Come Dine With Me” and the joy of hearing “the size of a cow” every time one of the contestants cooks a massive piece of steak.
Newer songs such as “oh no” the opening single from their most recent album “Oh No It`s…The Wonder Stuff” sat comfortably alongside crowd pleasers like “Circlesquare” and “It`s yer money I`m after Baby”, and a cover version of Duran Duran’s “Planet earth” was, in my opinion, the highlight of the evening. My only gripe regarding the evening (aside from the bar closing at ten) was the length of the set. At over twenty quid a ticket, I wanted more than 75 minutes, but perhaps upon seeing the size of the crowd, Mr Hunt felt that they had done enough. The band left the stage, disappointingly after only one encore, but proceeded to then spend time with their fans having photographs taken, and signing CD covers, T-shirts etc. Adding to the intimacy of the evening. For one night only in a dimly lit theatre in a small Town in the North East of England, It was a joy to be allowed to be seventeen again.

A big thanks to Mark Davies for this review of the Wonder Stuff. More great things coming to the Empire with Kate Nash on Tuesday (16th April), Manchester’s very own I am Kloot on Wednesday (17th April), Leeds indie pups Pigeon Detectives on Thursday the 2nd of May and the return of that wonderful Scouser Miles Kane on Bank Holiday Monday. (6th May)
See their web site for ticket details etc.



By peter on April 14, 2013

Check out all the pics

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