The Wonder Stuff. Bournemouth O2 Academy 20.12.19
Been looking forward to this one for a while. The old Opera House, Boscombe, now rather facelessly branded as The Bournemouth O2 Academy, is one of my favourite venues and it is quite convenient. It isn’t in the centre of Bournemouth but slightly out, in the centre of Boscombe. Car park nearby is fine, near Sainsbury’s just a couple of hundred yards from the venue. Train link is not that handy (Boscombe) but the M2 Bus goes near, and via Bournemouth town centre, and is a night bus route as well.
One thing to watch is the start times for gigs. They sometimes have early curfews and so start promptly, even with a nightclub session opening after a gig and everyone has been cleared.
It is a beautiful and ornate structure – it opened in 1895 as Boscombe Grand Theatre. The small standing balcony (one deep unless you don’t want to see) and second floor seated balcony in the gods are not always open. When they are there is a quiter bar open on the first floor.
I don’t why but they hide the decent beer. On the taps it’s Tuborg (!?) and San Miguel but if you ask, in the metal fronted fridges, lurk bottles of ale like London Pride and Wychewood. (Last tour here, there was even Wonder Stuff/ Ned’s Atomic Dustbin tour craft ale.)
Tonight’s support: Jim Bob
Jim Bob, former Carter, The Unstoppable Sex Machine, front man is tonight’s warm up. I never saw Carter USM but had some long since unravelled tapes and knew some singles but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. Jim Bob was very entertaining with quips and chat inbetween songs. Just him, a dainty little lounge table and a guitar.
Good to hear the cover of Inspiral Carpets’ ‘This is How it Feels to be Lonely’, the comedy of ‘Mrs F*cking McMurphy’ and in particular ‘The Only Living Boy in New Cross’.
Jim Bob’s masterpiece about a sweary home economics teacher is on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Vwyi4Fl05Jo
Previous Wonder Stuff gigs
I saw The Wonder Stuff twice in 1988 but I haven’t retained any tickets for those. First time was when I lived in Coventry and went to the ‘Eight Legged Groove Machine’ tour at Coventry Polytechnic (3 October 1988). The album was their first and one I have been attached to ever since.
The Wonder Stuff were always a band I saw as ‘one of my bands’ since then – big in the West Midlands especially- but they disappeared from my consciousness from the early 90s for about 20 years. I assume they stopped producing stuff and touring.
I saw them again in 1988 at the Reading Festival that year, in August. Then I have a few tickets I kept to mark a 1989 Leicester Poly gig (October 1989) and a big bash with Ned’s Atomic Dustbin at Aston Villa Leisure Centre (August 1990) handy for their Stourbridge contingent.
They played Pheonix Festival in 1994, one I went to several times in its short life, but I can’t recall if I saw them or not.
Four gigs in three years, which for one band was a lot for me then, and I had the first three albums on cassette, two of which I have retained despite them being served with redundancy notices when my tape playing facility ‘closed down’.
After that early blast of Wonder Stuff years they vanished. I will have a look up and see where they went.
Next time I caught up with main man Miles Hunt was Mr Kyps in Poole when he played a gig with the Stuffies violinist, Erica Knockhalls, on 17 May 2012.
In April 2018 I came to The Wonder Stuff/ Ned’s Atomic Dustbin tour, again here at the ‘Boscombe O2’. Ned’s AD were surprisingly good and bloody loud. Bit of an ear splitter and I didn’t have my muso ear defence with me. That can waste one’s ears for the evening sometimes. I enjoyed it but not as much as tonight which was right up there with my favourite gigs of the year.
Miles Hunt then popped up again here in Boscombe in June 2018 as a late entry to support Public Image (PiL), playing an acoustic solo slot.
The Wonder Stuff tonight
Tonight is part of a tour playing the first two Stuffies albums in their entirety: ‘Eight Legged Groove Machine’ and ‘Hup’. For me this means the set can’t fail…and it doesn’t. This is maybe the best time I’ve seen them – but how could I remember to compare. Sound great, good time of year, a Friday night and a crowd pleasing set.
The novel bit was opening with five or so new songs. Not a bad way to do it when you have everyone’s attention. No one wants a new song encore do they?
I have focused in on lead singer Miles but he is what it’s all about – his songs, his voice, enhanced by Erica especially on the prominent violin pieces.
Two of the original members have sadly died at what must have been quite young ages.
Some great tracks leap out of the set tonight. From ‘Hup’: ‘Cartoon Boyfriend’ (…why don’t you rub yourself out!); ’30 years in the Bathroom’ and ‘Golden Green’ but my biggest faves come from that wonderful ‘Eight Legged Groove Machine’ album: ‘Red Berry Joy Town’, ‘Ruby Horse’, ‘A Wish Away’ and ‘It’s yer Money I’m After Baby’.
They saved ‘Good Night Though’ from ‘Hup’ until the end. Full set list: https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/the-wonder-stuff/2019/o2-academy-bournemouth-bournemouth-england-4b9bff36.html
….a good night indeed.