Madding Crowd, Bournemouth 28.5.21
At last. A gig….after five months, five frustrating months of cancellations, postponements and gloom mongering. I know, I know, many people, notably performing artists, have waited much longer and and have their livelihoods at stake with this virus induced hiatus – and there’s still some waiting to go – but I am so happy to have a night of near normal live music.
Back at The Madding Crowd, Bournemouth again where I last was in December. I’ve only been here in the Covid era so tonight feels normal. Yes everyone is seated and at spaced tables like a cocktail lounge but I don’t know any different. Not even any odd plastic shields and screens, just a bit of mask wearing and mic spray to remind us.
Came here a few times at the end of 2020 for The Hoosiers where I gave a bit more detail on the venue and location, and a Matt ‘X-Factor’ Cardle gig, and like tonight each with three mainly quite local up and coming acts.
Come to think of it I haven’t been on a bus for over six months so the £3.60 return fare on the M1 from Poole is a welcome novelty in itself.
Arrived enthusiastically early having misread the ticket email so didn’t miss anything. There had been a rock art promotion the night before and many of the pictures adorned the walls. Caution required not to let the ale flow and take an expensive credit card purchase home on the night bus later.
First on Mikey Ball. Pre-gig Googles bring up loads of Michael Ball stuff so I get the ‘Mikey’ bit. Described as Hampshire born, folk rock/ acoustic, singer songwriter, we got the rockier end delivered as a four piece with Mikey clearly a great guitarist frontman.
With our stage side table for two – here with my wife Sally tonight – there is a close up appreciation of the prep, stresses and anticipation of the support bands and we can have a word.
I’d look out for any of tonight’s support acts playing locally, particularly Mikey Ball with a band – enjoyed them all. At times sounded a bit Gaslight Anthem.
The confusing sea of wires, amps and pedals slowly clears through the evening, but not before some additional heavy duty amps from Bournemouth rockers Saints of Sin.
Saints of Sin
Surprised I haven’t bumped into this band before. They’ve been going since 2013. Classic rock and metal with the unmistakable look that exudes a good rock night out – I read that their last album includes a bit of hip hop.. really?
Quite a short set with three supports to pack in but time to include a crowd wander while playing and include their most played Spotify tracks I was listening to beforehand: ’21 Shots’ and ‘Heart Attack’.
Our stage proximity has me keeping an eye on the guitarist Sparkxx’s red wine which wobbles to the performance and is finally rescued when the tension of a wine shower gets too much…it would have been quite rock ‘n’ roll I guess.
More about them in this local Echo piece. Cheers guys.
The stage side setting continues to bring new perspectives as we wait for Fredrik Ferrier to take the stage.
There’s also the chance to catch up on hip footwear in the band world 😁
Fredrik Ferrier was in Made in Chelsea which isn’t something I would go anywhere near but my mum and sister were quite animated when I mentioned this. Expecting to be repelled I thought his brief and much shortened performance was top notch even if not my bag exactly. This maybe his first proper gig: I may have misheard. I’m sure he’ll succeed. Clearly talented and will get the airing from his Chelsea thing.
Time was not on his side and only three or four songs possible. This was clear given the set lists we gathered from our roadies’ eye view. We have sat here before. I like this table.
Here we are then. Toploader’s first gig in 18 months and one to kick start, all being well, this big tour to commemorate 20 years of their first album ‘Onka’s Big Moka’ – released in Novemeber 1999 so a virus induced belated commemoration. The album reached number 5 in the charts selling 2 million copies, spending 6 months in the chart. I bought my copy 3 days ago in a second hand shop. Not exactly a hard core fan eh but this was a local opportunity not to be missed.
I’ve been listening to this first album and moreso ‘Magic Hotel’, their second, on Spotify though and who doesn’t know ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’. Easy listening pop rock. My anthem should be one of my favoured tracks ‘Achilles Heel’ – my Achilles Heel is my Achilles heel which has hampered the odd gig or three – and ‘Just About Living’ is another fave. Both of these from Onka.
But ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ was monster big. THE most downloaded 1999 track by anyone, this single being released in Feb 2000 and re-released in the November went triple platinum. Tonight’s version did it full justice – a classic to hear live in these up-close surroundings: maybe 100 people watching.
The originals from the early line up of the band from Eastbourne are Joe Washbourn, lead vocals and keyboards and Rob Green on drums and they are playing as a four piece. Not sure I’d recognise Joe from pics I’d seen but I think I could do a go of that haircut.🤔
Band are really together and looks like they are all set for a string of festivals and the tour, including a local one at Poole Harbour headlining, accompanied by a string of humourously named – as usual – tribute bands (Including The Fillers and Stereoironics). Not sure if I can fit that one in but will try. Being outside maybe a better shout of it being on. I’d like the chance to see this performance in front of a big, standing crowd.
Quite a diverse set given the focus on the first album on the tour promo material, including The Waterboys’ ‘Whole of the Moon’ and rounding off with the first track from Magic Hotel: ‘Time of my Life’. At least four I note being from the first album, which will really stick with me now.
Thoroughly enjoyable night. Good to be back out to some sort of near normality and good luck Toploader for the tour. Let’s hope we’re out of this mess by the end of June.