The Bluetones Live

The Bluetones: Water Rats, London

When big bands come to small gig venues, it’s invariably a great night and, The Bluetones at Water Rats was just that. Filmed for Vintage TV, the Hounslow massive rattle through an hour of their greatest hits.

Any Rik Mayall fan will tell you that, the best things about their live shows were the cock ups. Mayall’s wit and charm would shine brighter in these mercurial moments than during anything scripted. For this reason, we hope Adam Devlin’s guitar failure makes Vintage’s edit. It showcased frontman Mark Morriss in all his comedic glory.

It’s striking just how many charting singles they play tonight (and how many they don’t). Especially in Water Rats, a venue synonymous with This Feeling and their new music nights. So many new acts walk through these doors with great tunes and attitude, but, in the long run, too no avail.

Radio and TV outlets need to wake up to the new talent available. The indomitable Caffy St Luce and Heather Ferguson are here tonight, they dedicate their lives to breaking bands, these outlets should be trusting them (among others) as they did with The Bluetones in the 90s. Otherwise, they are denying generations of music lovers a chance to go on journeys with their favourite bands. The highs of the top 10, the lows of the fading 5th albums and then their glorious live comebacks when the kids have grown up.

This just leaves us to say, in the Bluetones immortal words, “So it’s on with the show”.

Image coutesy of  https://twitter.com/markpinsent

Mark Morriss Live: Spotlite Club, Southend

A strange gig in many ways. What was due to be an intimate setting with an icon became even more so with a poor turnout. This was Southend’s newest small gig venue, not a great sign of things to come. Nevertheless, Morriss took the ego hit in his stride and regaled stories and jokes in-between worthy of Live at the Apollo.

In-between the anecdotes and Bluetones classics, Morriss displayed his criminally underrated solo material. From his 2014 album ‘Flash of Darkness’, was ‘It's Hard to Be Good All The Time’ which kept the spirit of Crosby Stills and Nash alive. The sullen acoustic guitars of ‘Carry On’ and the brooding nature of ‘Dark Star’ combined with Morriss’ unique pop vocals.

From his debut solo effort ‘Memory Muscle’ came the more Bluetones-esque ‘I’m Sick’. The spritely melodies which embody all that is great about his band. More interestingly, there is sense of longing for something unfound, a notion that, with all the glory of the 90s, you’d feel Morriss would not have anymore.

The standout offering was the CSN styled ‘This Is The Lie (and That’s The Truth). A brilliant story of self-reflection and what it is to be a solo artist. Morriss’ ability to intertwine feelings of isolation with pop music have never been better here.

This was not a gig BBC4 will be making a documentary about but, for the small crowd, its one they will cherish more than most. Humble and hilarious, Morriss reminded them of the glory days and, better still, demonstrated that he is a force to be reckoned with as a solo act.

The Bluetones Live @ Roundhouse

With a little charm and a lot of style, Mark Morriss and co were back playing a greatest hits set and Camden’s Roundhouse.  

A lot is made of bands who tour without new material these days and, it's usually negative. In the case of The Bluetones though, they made new music until 2010 so this isnt a massive trip down nostalgia lane. Even if it was, there is a clearly a demand to from their fans to watch their concise alternative pop songs still.   

Nothing can be written about the anthems ‘Bluetonic’ or ‘Cut Some Rug’ that hasn’t been written before. They were, are and always will be classics. What probably wasn’t written enough about the band, was their 2003 album ‘Luxembourg’. 

It should have been another hit album  for the Hounslow band and adoring indie fans. However, a new decade was well under way and the Britpop tag was impossible to shake, especially when the lacklustre Nu-metal scene was dominating the share of alternative airplay.  

The performances of ‘Fast Boy’ and ‘Never Going Nowhere’ highlight just how overlooked they were in this period. ‘Fast Boy’, the tale of their weed dealer, demonstrates a shift towards more riff heavy guitar tracks. Meanwhile, ‘Never Going Nowhere’ took all their classic pop sensibilities and romantically tumultuous lyrics with a slightly more glam-rock tinged guitars and a bass breakdown so good, it is acceptable to dribble over.  

Morriss’ between song banter is a stern reminder just how much new bands could learn from the Bluetones. The dry wit, anecdotes and jokes are continuous throughout and crucially, it endears the crowd to the band even more. After their cover of Prince's 'I Could Never Take Your Place of Your Man', Morriss asks that the audience show their love for The Bluetones before its too late by buying something from the merch stall.  

There are sure to be many more nights like this for Bluetones fans to enjoy, it’s a good money spinner for the band and clearly fun for them. However, to those who booed when Morriss said no more new music was coming, TT retorts, support Morriss' fine solo efforts. Last years 'The Taste Of Mark Morriss' is cracking little indie pop album that should be in every Bluetones fans' collection.