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Review: The Bluetones – 14/03/19 – Riverside, Newcastle

15/03/2019

The Bluetones wowed a packed Riverside crowd on the 14th of March with a great selection of indie classics from throughout their career and sterling support came from North East natives The Voluntears…

 

It was quite a slow start to the night with a small crowd greeting the support act as they took to the stage. The Voluntears took this in their stride though as they made their way through an eclectic set. Jumping between indie pop and more classic rock tunes.

Thankfully, the empty space in the room was short-lived. By their third song, the audience had grown into an energetic mass that really responded to what was being doled out.

Vocalist Seamus Edge wowed with powerful vocals in songs like ‘Hey Girl’, while guitarist Mark Dunn powered through choppy indie chord progressions that kept the momentum up. If they hadn’t mentioned being one guitarist down, you’d never have known.

New single ‘Didn’t Want It This Way’ kicked off with a thumping drum intro. Shortly settling into a slice of catchy indie rock. Underscored with a catchy riff and relentless beat was their final tune, ‘Feels Like Home’ – a perfect close to a solid set.

Then it was the turn of the headliners. Entering stage left with all the understated confidence you would expect from a band with 26 years under their belt. They wasted no time getting into it. Opening classic track ‘Bluetonic’ inspired an early singalong and showcased the note-perfect quality we were in for. 

Next up, ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ mixed things up with its dramatic organ intro and sultry first verse. Leading into sublime indie foot-tapping beats with tight harmonies from brothers Mark and Scott Morriss.

This was followed up by ‘Never Going Nowhere’, delivering a palm muted, driving rhythm with falsetto verse vocals. Ultimately shifting into an emotionally charged chorus before breaking into a synth-tinged finale.

Vocalist Mark Morriss enjoyed a bit of back and forth with the crowd, his comically aloof persona bringing in the laughs. One repeated refrain was his lamenting of 14-year-old EP ‘Serenity Now’. Let’s just say it didn’t fly off the shelves at the time. However, you wouldn’t know it when they played the title track. The audience seemed intimately familiar with its bluesy riffs and melodic vocal hooks. 

The main focus of the night was their beloved debut album, 1996’s ‘Expecting to Fly’, with plenty for die-hards to sink their teeth into. From ‘Cut Some Rug’ to ‘The Fountainhead’ and of course, their most famous track ‘Slight Return’. Morriss joked that the latter was the only Bluetones song you’re likely to hear on Heart Radio. Self-deprecating humour aside, there’s little doubting its quality as a defining British indie tune. Especially when it’s performed live as enthusiastically as you’d imagine it was in the 90s.

One of the night’s standouts was ‘Slack Jaw’ from their 2000 album ‘Science & Nature’. More folk-influenced than the rest of their set with accordion backing, bright acoustic guitar progressions and a marching bassline – it was definitely a crowd favourite.

Their encore included a jokey rendition of ‘Hide & Seek’ by Howard Jones. Starting out with plenty of forgotten words / relearning of chords before building into a legitimately impressive rendition of the first verse and chorus. The crowd loved it. After all, where’s the fun in taking yourself seriously?

However, all good things must come to an end. They closed their set with ‘If…’ from their sophomore album ‘Return to the Last Chance Saloon’. Capping off the performance as it began, a hands-in-the-air singalong to a timeless indie standard.

PHOTOS: VICTORIA WAI

WORDS: JOHN PATTERSON


Check out the rest of the photos from the gig over on our gig gallery…

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