LIVE REVIEW: The Bluetones, The K’s @ Middlesbrough Town Hall Crypt (30.11.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Tracy Hyman

With the music industry still desperate for a genuine big hitter in the 90s revival, tonight’s main support, The K’s (that errant apostrophe the most Britpop grammatical error ever), may have melodic indie rock down to a T with tracks like Aurora, their own take on Dirty Old Town and Sarajevo, along with some genuine North West swagger, but it remains to be seen on this performance if they can leapfrog Catfish & The Bottlemen into pole position.

The Bluetones are celebrating an album anniversary and, as you do, arrive onstage in lab coats and sun visors for a workmanlike trawl through their Science & Nature album. In case you missed it first time around it was a document of a late-Britpop band in free fall sales-wise but recorded their most loungey indie tendencies. Last of the Great Navigators and Mudslide were, and are, valiant attempts to push the indie pop genre forward and an early indicator of where singer Mark Morriss would later go with his solo releases. But by Autophilia the shit in-jokes are creeping in along with the filler instrumentals and lacklustre blues of the second half of the album but at least it leaves plenty of time to slip in an extra trip to the bar, surreptitiously buy some Christmas merch for the missus and, for others, gamely chat over the music.

Slack Jaw rallies the crowd though, before an intermission (it’s not just me that finds these intervals a little awkward, right?) before they return in civvies immediately looking younger and more enthused. So, Bluetonic pulls their set round sounding every bit as charming as it did in 1996. But as the venues get smaller the jokes are becoming more apt for the clubs too, culminating in a cringey proposal from the stage (if only the poor girl had said yes, we could have just moved on to the meat raffle).

Cut Some Rug and a massive sounding crowd pleaser in Solomon Bites The Worm redress the indie balance and a cover of Eurythmics’ Love is a Stranger also gets everyone in the festive mood regardless of it not being a Christmas song, before Slight Return and closer If turn the nostalgia lever up to full. But the format means there is no time left for fan favourites like Putting Out Fires and Sleazy Bed Track amongst others.

 

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