The Bluetones


O2 Ritz is one of those places that takes on whichever band or artist is playing – the vibe is set by the music, the crowd and how excitable they are. So I’m a bit unsure what to expect from 90s Britpoppers The Bluetones on Thursday – a bit of an institution with their loyal fans who have the potential to span the three decades that the band has been going.

First up I’m met by the sounds of first support act The Gallerys as I walk in. I instantly feel my age when my first thought is “they look 12!” but the three piece are full of energy, channeling the Gallaghers and Albarn in a way that only those too young to remember the actual time can. So far so good.

I’m soon swept away in the tight knit trio from Maidstone and am reminded how awesome it is when a drummer sings lead vocals on a track – there’s always something exciting about it for me.

A short interlude and I’m met with one of the best breakout bands I’ve seen in years when second support act Jordan Allen come on. Knowing where I was heading tonight I’ve had a quick Google and it seems this Bolton five piece are set for big things, not least for supporting such a big band in their home area. Last year saw them release their first EP, play some of Manchester’s other big venues and hit the billing for some national festivals, so I’m expecting something good but boy do they deliver.

Bounding on, the silk shirt clad lead singer and lead guitarist in particular are right at home immediately and, knowing it’s their job to get the crowd going, set out on their mission with gusto and confidence to rival any established band, if not more so if I’m honest. Everyone is on their side.

Jordan Allen are excitable and lively, with a fantastic front man that drives them through some great old school rock and roll tracks that Jarvis Cocker would be proud of – starting most tracks off with a hip thrust and a gurn they lap it up. Their new single, ‘Synchronized’, has some great commercial value and I can only expect their EP is full of some of the great guitar solos I’m hearing here, so I’ll definitely be looking them up when I get home. I’m also going to be searching ebay for the brightest patterned silk shirts possible.

Now, we’re onto the much anticipated headliners, The Bluetones. People are excited – many a grown man has gone and bought a band tee and put it on over his sensible grown up shirt to watch.

They walk on, beers or brews in hand, say a quick hello and are straight in.

We’re treated to many a track from their first 10 years mainly, the first four albums as lead singer Mark Morriss explains in between Britpop anthem after Britpop anthem. ‘Down at the Reservoir’ is a lovely start with cheesy hand gestures to boot, and ‘Bluetonic’ is a real crowd pleaser.

They move through some absolute stompers, talking about getting to number 13 in the Hit Parade. ‘Fast Boy’ from 2003 album Luxembourg seems to be the band’s favourite but the juxtaposition of the rock and roll riffs against Morriss’ high pitched voice in ‘Castle Rock’ is a real highlight.

As they go through the set you can tell the band are on the last leg of the tour and are ready for a break. Morriss brings some energy back to the audience with a short quip about telling your mum you’re on your way out as a kid, when mobile phones didn’t exist to keep tabs on young ones as they cause trouble, and then the ever recognisable guitar strum of ‘Slight Return’ brings the house down.

The lights are up and the crowd have heard what they came for. I can’t help but wonder how hard it must be for bands to play such a popular song over and over and over again while keeping the passion and the band address it themselves when it’s over – “We plaster our smiles on for that one. You like it much more than we do.” The audience laugh but it leaves a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth – arguably the song that made them all those years ago now appears to be their millstone. Such a shame when that happens.

However, ‘Solomon Bites The Worm’ and ‘After Hours’ leave the evening on a high and the crowd are danced out and shining-faced happy.

All in all a lovely throw back to a simpler time when Britpop ruled the world, so you can’t complain.

Cheers guys.

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