I last saw The Wonder Stuff at what was supposed to be their final gig at the Phoenix Festival at Long Marston Airfield near Stratford – upon-Avon in July 1994. I got to see singer Miles Hunt`s new band Vent 414, whom I thought were excellent and then saw him as he joined Carina Round at the Hare and Hounds pub in Kings Heath, Birmingham a decade ago. So, I thought it was time I re-acquainted myself with this outfit and as this show would include a sort of greatest hits section, all the better.
Tonight`s performance was in two parts the first was a run through of the band`s third album `Never Loved Elvis` released 31 years ago and the second part a number of newer and their most popular songs.
There`s little fuss as the band hit the stage and share the whole of the `Never Loved Elvis` album for the next fifty minutes from `Mission Drive` to `38 Line Poem`. Highlights for me were the kind of obvious hits with `Welcome to the Cheap Seats`, `The Size of a Cow`, `Sleep Alone` and `Caught In My Shadow`. Always with these sort of shows you get to hear something about said album and as the singer shared
` Grotesque` he said it was his mom`s favourite track off the album as it was written about a girlfriend of the singers that his mom didn`t warm to.
The album over, the band take a fifteen minute break and return with the encore or seventeen further tracks. `Red Berry Joy Town` from the debut album `The Eight Legged Groove Machine` kicks us off before `On The Ropes` has this packed crowd bouncing up and down. We have a couple of new newer numbers with `Feet to the Flames` and `Don’t Anyone Dare Give a Damn` before an audience request for `Circlesquare` is played and I have to admit it`s been going through my head ever since.
`Full of Life (Happy Now)` morphs into Queen`s `Radio Ga Ga` with the audience clapping raised hands together. The hits flow with `Cartoon Boyfriend`, `Golden Green`, `Ruby Horse`, the wonderful `A Wish Away` and `Radio Ass Kiss`.
Mr Hunt has certainly mellowed as he pays tribute to Martin Gilks and Rob `the bass thing` Jones, band members who have passed away with the introspective `Piece Of Sky`. I say this as a friend who was enthralled by the band got to meet them when supporting Zodiac Mindwarp and The Love Reaction at Rock City in Nottingham in 1988 and Miles was pretty obnoxious. I can confirm this as I was with him at the time. The set closes out with `Don’t Let Me Down, Gently`, `It’s Yer Money I’m After, Baby` and `Ten Trenches Deep`
The band return and share my favourite number `Unbearable`, the cracking `Give, Give, Give Me More, More, More` which was dedicated to Three Tuns Brewery and wish us farewell with `Good Night Though`.
Well, that was that. No fuss, No gimmicks, No backdrop just a solid two hours of cracking songs and banter from this local band done good. Lets hope it`s not another twenty eight years before I see the band again as if I live I’ll be in my nineties!
After tonight i`ve been revisiting other local bands of that era with The Great Outdoors , The Mighty Lemon Drops, Balaam And The Angel, Pop Will Eat Itself and Neds Atomic Dustbin so thank you. See you at the next anniversary show hopefully.