Gigantic Indie All-Dayer III

Gigantic Indie All-Dayer III


The idea is a simple one, take a number of bands that emerged in the same era and build a festival around them. Although, this is not merely a nostalgia trip, as all the bands on show have reformed with new material to perform alongside their fan favourites.

This is the third Gigantic Indie All Dayer to be held at Manchester Academy and the way that the day is organised, makes you wish that all festivals could be like this. It is also the perfect bill to reacquaint myself with bands of my youth and to catch up with some old favourites too.

The bill has a number of bands across three stages, so it Is difficult to see everything – typical of most festivals. Sadly, I miss out on Jesus Jones, as I was concentrating on the bands in Academy 1.

First up in there is Jack Adaptor, who include ex-Family Cat man Paul “Fred” Frederick and have the unenviable task as openers. They do a good job of getting the crowd going. Apparently it’s their first electric gig in ten years, it doesn’t show as they plough though tunes from their latest album J’accuse. There are a number of Family Cat diehards at the front enjoying the set and sporting merchandise. “That’ll be worth money that,” front man Frederick says as he spots a fan wearing an old Family Cat T-Shirt, “About £1.50,” he adds self deprecatingly.

Next up is S*M*A*S*H who are a band that I remember seeing at a festival back in the day. They are notable for the song Lady Love Your Cunt’, which was a controversial title at the time and apparently something of a feminist anthem. I have to say they are a bit one note and having played the aforementioned song and a few new others, I make a retreat outside for a drink and some sun. It was probably the ‘Bob Dylan can suck my dick’ line in one of the songs, which hastened my retreat.

One band that for some reason that I think I have never seen is The Frank and Walters. They are great from start to finish with a number of festival friendly songs that delight the fans and casual observers in equal measure. They certainly aren’t going through the motions in the early evening slot. They dress in matching orange shirts and black ties and certainly look the part. “I’ve changed my bass strings for you. I normally do it every two years.” Paul Linehan says highlighting another level of detail to their preparation. ‘Fashion Crisis hits New York’ still sounds great after all these years; it still has the same effect on festival crowds as before. With the diehards at the front singing along. ‘After All’ is equally successful in getting the crowd up and moving.

CUD were once darlings of the indie press with their lead singer Carl Puttnam known for giving good quote. He’s still the consummate front man and works the crowd well. ‘How’s it sounding?’ he asks half way through the set. The resounding cheer says it all. He pulls up his ‘off the peg drummer’ for a missing the last verse. Then with the next song the guitarist fluffs his opening. “That’s what you get when try with it with an off the peg guitarist – although we picked him up a long ago,’ Puttnam adds. They end with ‘I Have Had It With Blondes’ one of my favourites of theirs before they get the signal from the wings that their allotted time is up.

The Darling Buds. Sadly for them a majority of the crowd disappear for their set, no doubt in search of other bands and possibly to soak the last of the summer sun. The diehards who stay behind are treated to a sunshine set of near-hits and new numbers. They play oldies ‘Hit the Ground’ and ‘Burst’, which are good to hear again. ‘My Tiny Machine’ sounds great and the set highlight, despite the vocal fluff at the end. ‘Evergreen’ was the pick of the newer tunes.

Despite liking a number of The House of Love’s tunes, a startling oversight on my part is that I have never seen them live before tonight. They are marvelous from start to finish; the new and the old songs fit together perfectly. They open with ‘Never’ that takes you back to a time when the indie charts were full of tunes that used to jangle and chime, but not as sublimely as The House of Love’s songs could. Front man Guy Chadwick casts a nonchalant figure as he peers over his dark sunglasses when he sings, although he offers a thumbs up to acknowledge the appreciation from the audience. Guitarist Terry Bickers is the more expressive throughout, both with the between song chats and his guitar playing. He also looks like that he hasn’t aged since the time when band first emerged. Maybe its nerves that could explain Chadwick’s reticence, but he opens up towards the end of the set and reassures the audience of what to expect, ‘Don’t worry we’ll be playing the crowd pleasers later’.

True to form they do, ‘Beatles and Stones’ sounds great. My own favourite, and many others, ‘Shine On’ was simply majestic tonight. Terry Bickers guitar was chiming away to good effect. ‘Destroy the Heart’ too is brilliant; its recognisable opener has the crowd bouncing away from the first beat. The closing number ‘Love in a Car’ is as atmospheric as it has always been. By the time the song reaches a crescendo my chest almost felt like it was fit to burst, as the rhythm section propels the song to its conclusion. “Thanks you’ve been great’ Guy Chadwick says to the audience as he leaves the stage. A sentiment clearly the audience could reciprocate.

The one band on the bill that I have seen on many occasions is The Wonder Stuff. I caught them back in March, in Liverpool, before the release of the excellent new album ‘30 Goes Around the Sun’ (They were great that night too). You know what to expect whenever you see The Wonder Stuff; excellent tunes and a front man who will try to ring the last ounce of energy from an ageing crowd that’s been on their feet all day. They open with ‘Intro’ and ‘Don’t You Ever’ from the latest album; faster paced numbers that show the band mean business. They then launch into a succession of their greatest hits, ‘Here Comes Everyone’ was brilliant as ever and is soon followed by ‘On the Ropes’ that showed that the band’s intention was to give it a good go and cram as many of their classics into their allotted time.

“We’ve written a new album, I’m sure you don’t want to fucking hear the new ones. Well, I’m still in control here,” the ever engaging presence of front man Miles Hunt highlighting his own inimitable way of getting the crowd onside.

Another new one ‘Last Days Of The Feast’ is soon followed by ‘For the Broken Hearted’ which is the band’s forthcoming single and according to Hunt, the band have filmed a video for, that includes synchronized dancing.  “Were ditching you old fuckers and going for the boy band crowd,” is Hunt’s reasoning for such a move. It’s a song that they slipped into the set for the recent UK tour and it’s fast becoming one of my favourite tunes from band. This and the rest of the new album is evidence that Miles Hunt as a songwriter can still knock out a perfect pop tune. The set list proves that ear for a tune has been a constant over the 30-year career of the band. ‘Golden Green’ has members of the audience in full-on hoedown at the back of the venue. “So it’s the frivolous shit you want? We’ve a bag full of that,” before Hunt gestures drummer to Tony Arthy to fire up the keyboard sample that introduces ‘Size of a Cow’. It’s a big lively pop song, perfect for these occasions.

I could mention every song the band play and every bit of interaction from the enigmatic front man, but this would mean the review would turn into a novel. Let’s just say from start to finish they play the perfect headlining set with songs from all parts of the repertoire and forms of the band. They end as they always do, with ‘Good Night Though’ following a run of their bone fide festival classics. Looking at my list of what they have played, I would be greedy asking for more.

They have an extensive list of festival performances coming up this summer and they are worth seeing for the new and the old numbers if you get the chance.

The Wonder Stuff’s set was a prefect end, to a fantastic day. Credit must go to all the bands, fans, promoters, roadies, and the venue staff for making the day such as success. Here’s to next year’s festival.

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