The Sundays 25 years on: hits, hysteria and mugs of tea

The Sundays having a brew

The Sundays: Harriet Wheeler enjoying a brew our writer DIDN’T make

A Shoulda Woulda Coulda recollection of epic proportions, Getintothis’ Dickie Felton recalls The Sundays’ first tour and the best cuppa he never made 25 years on.

I almost made The Sundays singer Harriet Wheeler a mug of tea. Almost.

Exactly 25 years ago I was 16 clumsy and shy and hanging around Manchester University in heady anticipation of The Sundays’ first headline tour.

These were dramatic days for teenage Felton who was fast discovering a magical world away from football and failing exams.

For a few glorious months in 1990 The Sundays filled the giant void in British independent music left by The Smiths. Trumpeted by John Peel, the Reading four-piece grabbed media attention the instant they performed live.

Emotive dreamy acoustic songs with Harriet Wheeler‘s distinctive and beautiful vocals propelled The Sundays at home and abroad.

This week, exactly a quarter of a century ago, The Sundays embarked on their first headline tour. And – I feel so proud to say it now – I was there. February 9 1990 – a date forever etched in my mind.

This was my first venture into a ‘foreign’ city for a gig. My mate Colin Stewart, a few years older than me, was streetwise in gigging terms. He insisted we go and arranged tickets, trains and the start of a lifetime’s musical obsession.

The excitement had been mounting for months. In 1989 John Peel made The Sundays’ debut single Can’t Be Sure top of his Festive 50. At the same time The Catalogue magazine gave away a free flexi of The Sundays’ forthcoming album track I Won.

The debut long player, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, was embraced from Telford to Texas to Tokyo. It shifted half a million copies around the globe.

My friend Colin crept around to my house one night and left a fossil on my doorstep in homage to the cover of the album.

Album track Here’s Where The Story Ends was played endlessly in America on MTV (and was also covered by Tin Tin Out in 1998 making the British top ten).

But The Sundays weren’t ready for the success. Wheeler was suddenly on the cover of Vox in her black tee and black docs. Inside the magazine she described their shows in Japan as being “like Beatlemania“.

That day 25 years ago, me and Colin arrived at Manchester University early. Along with a few other fans we were early enough to peer through a creak in the door to see the band sound check.

Then a voice from above: “Do two of you want to go backstage and meet the band? Though you have to able to make them a decent brew…”

Unfortunately it wasn’t us given the opportunity of a lifetime and we watched in awe as two other fans sped off to be The Sundays crew members for 15 minutes.

The gig itself saw us positioned on the very front row. The support act as perfect as can be: Galaxie 500.

As The Sundays came on I think I saw Tony H Wilson in the shadows, I definitely saw my future there and then. This was it. Me, music, bands, sweaty concert halls, when DM referred to your footwear and not social media or something.

Harriet Wheeler and genius guitarist Dave Gavurin were within touching distance and the music they played that night was mesmerising. All 500 or so people present realised they were witnessing something quite amazing.

A second album Blind was released in 1992 and was another huge hit. But a subsequent sold-out US tour was cut short due to homesickness. It would be half a decade before their next album release: Static and Silence with its glorious single Summertime a hit in the UK and American indie charts.

The Sundays also recorded an utterly fabulous cover of the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses but Wheeler and Gavurin had other more major projects to work on: a family.

And as far as the music world is aware, it’s parenthood not platinum discs that has been the couple’s passion ever since.

Last year Adam Pitluk, editor of American Airlines’ in-flight magazine, secured a most unexpected interview where Wheeler and Gavurin revealed, that after an absence of two decades, they were writing music again.

Could The Sundays reappear in 2015? And would they let me make them a 25 year overdue mug of tea?