The Zutons, The Fernweh, The Peach Fuzz: Eventim Olympia, Liverpool

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The Zutons

The Zutons are at the 15 year anniversary of their debut album, and a first live performance in the city since 2016 sees Getintothis’ Kevin Barrett bringing all the action from the band’s return to Liverpool. 

2004 is a year that probably won’t be remembered for any grand historical prominence.

But as a re-cap on a few notable headlines; 10 new countries joined the EU to bring its then membership to 25. British music sadly lost its greatest pioneer in John Peel. We had a Labour government in power, albeit with Tony Blair at the helm. Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ sent the world into complete meltdown. And Rafa Benitez was appointed as the new Liverpool manager.

But finally, and more significant to tonight’s proceedings, the release of The Zutons debut record Who killed The Zutons landed on the shelves of the likes of HMV in April of that year, and what a time it was!

Produced by Ian Broudie, and released on the great Alan WillsDeltasonic Records, this album was to shoehorn itself the history books of the Liverpool music scene forever.

This writer’s affinity with the band started a little before this in 2003, The Royal Court was the scene for a night of Deltasonic showcasing, where the then little known The Zutons provided chief support for The Coral on their Magic and Medicine tour.

It was clear on this performance alone that they had something special about them, and had audiences transfixed with their brand of psych rock/blues right up until calling it a day in 2009.

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After a lengthy sabbatical, with the only the other public performance coming on the tribute night to celebrate the life of Tramp Attack’s Kris Ealey in 2016 it is intriguing to see what the band could now bring to the table.

Taking to the stage with a slightly rejigged line up of Dave McCabe, Sean Payne, Abi Harding, Boyan Chowdhury making up the original line up, in the absence of bass player Russ Pritchard currently on tour with Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, this sees Jay Lewis of The La’s and Cast step in. Also added to the line up is Neil Bradley on keys and percussion.

Wasting no time Zuton Fever fills the room as it reverberates around these old walls, and sounding as good as it did in 2004. Dirty Dance Hall and Remember Me are next for an airing, before the place erupts for Valerie.

With McCabe back on lead following taking a side seat with his recent band Silent-K it’s clear to see this is where he belongs, this is where he gets his kick, and the renewed chemistry between all band members is a joy to see. Harding runs through her set with invigorated passion and dynamism on the sax whilst also providing the glam with some fabulous dance moves, the band are clearly enjoying this in here tonight.

For anyone who may have doubted what The Zutons could offer with such a lengthy break can rest assure that the spark between them has more than certainly reignited, McCabe apologised for being ‘lazy bastards’ in the sense that ‘it’s been a while’, but this gig could have been from any night in the band’s heyday, aside from a few minor vocal blips the playing couldn’t be faulted.

A nostalgic elation was in the air as Havana Gang Brawl, Pressure Point and Don’t Ever Think had everyone moving their feet before closing off with a magnificent encore of Hello Conscience, and You Will You Wont.

Is tonight a show of return and reflection, or is it more? Are we seeing the rebirth of the much loved band, on the evidence we could be in for a another thrilling ride.

Tonight’s openers The Peach Fuzz are a band we’ve been keeping a close eye on of late. Impressing at every chance during recent support slots for the likes of The Fernweh and The Vryll Society before taking centre stage on last week’s BBC 6 Music Festival Fringe, including winning over new found fan in 6 Music’s Liz Kershaw.

Signed to Skeleton Key Records, the Liverpool based five piece are everything you want in a psych-glam band, great look, dreamy sound, and a stage presence that attests them to be completely at home in grander surroundings such as tonight’s platform. 

Highlights of set include a brand new song Dressed in Red that’s full of drama, haunting harmonies, big lead vocals, and an impressively heavy bass. Followed by last year’s single release Destroy The Evidence. Finishing on a more uptempo note with the yet to be released next single Outside Looking In.

Since release of their long awaited and much acclaimed debut record in November The Fernweh have been focusing on honing their live sound by lending support to most nights of this tour, whilst also opening for Doves on their recent return to Manchester’s Royal Albert Hall.

The psych-folk quintet are every bit as wondrous on stage as they are on track, enthrallingly melodic with haze filled harmonies, poetic lyrics are delicately encased within a sound which oozes beautifully melancholic nostalgia.

There’s an enticing symmetry with the band’s craft, the abundance of instruments strewn across the stage are utilised to their full and glorious potential with elegant interludes to make up their set.

Although playing to a full house, the crowd’s excitement and anticipation for the main act somewhat overawed the softer elements in the set. Whilst Is This Man Bothering You and the closing track Little Monsters picked up a good reception, the increasingly loud chatter from the audience did dampen the playing a touch.

Images by Getintothis’ Kevin Barrett

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