The Wonder Stuff - Academy 2 - 3.10.04

Tonight's gig is a kind of unofficial, indie Here and Now. The support act Tom Hingley and The Lovers have a disappointing number of people watching them. Instead of propping up the bar downstairs, they should be witnessing sometime Inspiral Carpets frontman Tom Hingley's new band The Lovers who play an eclectic half hour set of rockin songs, many of which are off their latest album "Abba Are The Enemy". Hingley's a vastly underrated songwriter and performer and tonight he proves there's still life in the old dog.

There's not many young whippersnappers here tonight. Just the usual suspects of men in their mid to late thirties with the occasional indie kids tagging along for the ride. Miles Hunt looks alarmingly youthful for a man pushing 40, his long locks of yore have been replaced with a severe short haircut. Founding member Malcolm Treece stands proudly next to Miles, guitar at the ready. New recruits Mark McCarthy on bass (the first real successor to the sadly departed Bass Thing according to Mr Hunt) and Dre on drums complete the new look Wonder Stuff line-up. Unlike last years Christmas show at the Apollo, this is not just another nostalgia trip (although their back catalogue receives much attention from the Stuffies). With a new album "Escape From Rubbish Island" out we get a good mix of old and new Stuffies. In fact, first song of the night is the albums title track which sounds unbelievable live with its rock overtones and bitter lyrics delivered in a witty and tongue in cheek way. Older tracks played are mainly from the "Eight Legged Groove Machine" album like "Grin", "Ruby Horse" and It's Your Money I'm After Baby". "Poison" is dedicated to Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone.

The good news is that the new songs like "Back To Work" and "Another Comic Tragedy" still have that melodic power and lyrical intelligence which you associate with the Wonder Stuff. Miles Hunt has never sounded better and his digs at Coldplay and Snow Patrol (or Snow Plough as Miles calls them) display his cocky swagger has remained intact. With a varied set list showing the Wonder Stuff are enjoying their time in the spotlight again. It's long overdue

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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