Cue the harp as Getintothis’ Jamie Bowman takes a nostalgic trip back to the 90’s for an indie disco party with The Wonder Stuff at O2 Academy Liverpool.
Watch any documentary on indie music or the nineties and you can be almost certain the narrative will be pretty similar. First there was The Smiths. Then there was the Stone Roses. Then there was Nirvana. And then there was Britpop.
So where does that leave the likes of the Wonder Stuff? In the post-Morrissey and pre-baggy chasm they quickly became the biggest indie band around, capable of filling stadiums and having proper top ten hits when that was a rare feat for anyone who wasn’t New Order or The Cure.
But for all that success and devotion they inspired, ‘the Stuffies’ seem to have been written out of the history books, their raggle taggle mix of folk and punk not fitting into any cool retelling of the time or the kind of thing which is discussed on earnest music shows.
And yet here is the Wonder Stuff celebrating their 30th anniversary, minus a few original members, but still with almost-identical looking motor mouth front man Miles Hunt in tow and they’re playing to a packed out O2 Academy of 30 and 40 somethings who are bellowing every word of each successive indie disco classic. Someone hasn’t read the memo.
In truth it’s easy to see why fashion left the Wonder Stuff far behind so quickly. Much of Hunt’s appeal is based on the fact you could imagine a night out on the tiles with him – there’s none of the studied cool or stand-off arrogance of say a Liam Gallagher or an Alex Turner. Instead the gregarious Hunt stomps around the stage swinging his Gretsch guitar, singing his heart out and making sure the crowd enjoy themselves. It’s simple really.
This brand of old fashioned showmanship and a sense of goodwill pervades the whole evening with the three decade landmark and not the new album the point of the show. As a result more than half the songs come from the Stuffies’ imperial period of 1989-1991 with the track listings of both Hup and Never Loved Elvis given a good going over. Hunt even implores the punters to head for the bar when he plays new song For The Broken Hearted.
The highlights are many: a vitriolic On The Ropes (their last major hit before Britpop arrived), a heartfelt and nostalgic Caught In My Shadow, which benefits from the some eye-catching fiddle from Erica Nockells and a moving Welcome To The Cheap Seats which is dedicated to Kirsty Macoll. By the ecstatically received encore, the double whammy of Piece of Sky and It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby has sent everyone straight back for one more round at the Union bar.
Size of a Cow is tossed away mid-set with an embarrassed Hunt proclaiming “might as well get rid of this now” but of course he still plays it. And he still smiles. And so does everyone else.