The Bluetones - 53 Degrees Preston - 18.2.07

Last years self titled album from The Bluetones was regarded a return to form reminding everyone of the brilliance that was their debut "Expecting To Fly". With a BBC sessions album out now the Bluetones should be making much more than just a slight return. Mark Morris, dapper frontman is unsure about the crowd though. He enquires "You're very subdued. Have you come straight from church?". Not many people have but as the Bluetones have opened with the mid tempo plodder "My Neighbours House" Designer Magazine wonder if they've made the right choice. It's not a great start and the buffoon shouting "take your tie off" to drummer Ed chester throughout the gig is annoying in the extreme. Thankfully the heckles subside and things improve especially during new single "Surrender" which has glorious harmonies and is a song to be proud of.

Unlike many bands who saturate their set with the new album, The Bluetones play a satisfying mix of album tracks old and new plus singles we've loved ever since Britpop like the bluesy "Sleazy Bedtrack" and "Keep The Home Fires Burning" which Mark describes as a cheery song about domestic violence. The crowd are now rocking and the exuberance is heightened even more when "Slight Return" is performed with Mark calm, confident and handsome like a young Dirk Benedict in his A Team prime. It's amazing that thirteen years since the Bluetones formed, these four young men have still got the songs and charisma and it's the original line up too even if the fan base has dwindled recently.

"Head On A Spike" is a far cry from the polished indie pop The Bluetones excel in. It's a disco stomper which has Mark in synth heaven as his hands strike the keyboards and put frenetic funk into the mix. Much mellower and calmer is a track from their latest album, a song called "Hope & Jump" and as the band trundle off it doesn't take a genius to realize that an encore is imminent. The Bluetones finish off with three contrasting but superb songs. "THe Last Song But One" has Mark sharing vocal duties with his brother Scott. "Solomon Bites The Worm" is hedonistic in a subversive kind of way while "If" is reflective but naggingly catchy and ends the night on a high only The Bluetones can manage. After a shaky start, they delivered a consistently high standard of tunes and effortless showmanship

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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