The Bluetones - Manchester Academy 2 - 2.4.05

"When I am tired and weary, when all my hope is gone". Those lyrics that The Bluetones wrote so long ago couldn't sum up the spirit of the band more appropriately. Excluding a few teenage mistakes (Embarrassing Secrets Ed: Chesney Hawkes and MC Hammer), The Bluetones were the first band I saw live in that early double bill with Supergrass. 10 years later I come back to witness the band, but find one at odds with those early memories.

Gone are the suits and in their place are cheap charity shop leather jackets and with the smart attire lacking, so is the bands attitude. The bouncy jangly hits such as "Bluetonic" and "Slight Return" sit beside rockier new material off the "Luxembourg" album and still nearly a decade after their first single was released on ltd edition blue vinyl they're selling out near thousand capacity venues. It's a position that many of their contemporaries of the time would have loved to be in rather than collapsing under the weight of drug habits, egos or the fact that there's no interest from the fans anymore. For Mark Morriss it doesn't seem enough and with each song he unveils himself as a prime candidate for Grumpy Old Men. Spitting out "This was our last single, if any of you still remember it" or "This was a bonus track for the Singles Collection. It was supposed to help sell a few extra copies - it didn't". If there was a thin line between self depreciating humour and being eaten up with bitterness it's clear that Mark Morriss has definitely stepped over the line.

Over the past few years the band have had cameo appearances in Little Britain and Mark's done solo acoustic gubbins with sporadic releases from the band. A new album, DVD and B-side album are planned for later in the year, but on the basis of tonight's performance they'll have problems keeping onto the fans they have if the cynicism remains. Still we can always listen to "Keep The Home Fires Burning" and remember the glory days

Alex McCann

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