Mark Morriss of the Bluetones

When I mentioned to James that I was going to see the Bluetones, he said he thought they’d split up. But no, they’re still going, and kicked off a new tour in Edinburgh’s Liquid Rooms last night.

It’s true that they have a pretty low profile these days, compared with the time when they were being touted as the new Stone Roses. It was never a perfect comparison, and is even less so now. Whereas the Roses released one of the defining albums of the decade and a shatteringly disappointing follow-up, the Bluetones have “only” released four very good albums in a row, which if anything are getting better as they go on.

I was hoping that this tour signalled a new album, but apparently that’s coming later in the year; in the meantime, they’re “clearing out the cobwebs” with a 3-CD set of A-sides and B-sides (half of which recaps their 2002 singles collection, but it looks like good value if you don’t have that). There’s also an EP, Serenity Now, which at four quid is excellent value; I’ve only listened to it once since buying a copy at the gig, but it’s full of the usual tight and catchy ’Tones tunes.

We got a couple of those last night, but half of the show was taken up with the A-sides/B-sides concept, with a few too many B-sides for my liking. Even though I know the albums backwards, I only knew about half a dozen of the songs they played, and most of the crowd were in the same boat. A 2:1 ratio of A’s to B’s would have been better than 1:1. Still, we had some kicking versions of “Slight Return”, “Solomon Bites The Worm”, “Keep The Home Fires Burning”, “Here It Comes Again”, “Liquid Lips”, and the big closer “If...”, which had everyone pogoing like an army of mad robot jackhammers. The only (major) drawback was a broken mic, with Mark Morriss’s voice jerking in and out of the mix in the worst possible way for half the set.

I only realised when they came onstage that I’d never actually seen a picture or video of the band in all these years. So that’s what Mark Morriss looks like—well I never. Quite the dapper East End chap, in his stripy shirt and tie. Someone in the audience threw him a stylish leather hat to wear for half the show, and he twirled it down his arm like a pro. “Can Pete Doherty do that? I don’t know. I don’t know.

But the best line of the night was his tongue-in-cheek response to one of the rowdy Scots yelling at him from the crowd: “Stop your effing and Jeffing, young man, this is a pop concert!”

Pop and roll, baby, pop and roll.

9 March 2006 · Music

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