The Lightning Seeds 10.9.2021 O2 Academy Bristol
I took the long winded but relaxing train route to Bristol for the gig tonight, changing at Upwey and on through Frome (ah handy for the Cheese and Grain) and Bath and only having two mobile tickets check ‘performances’ on the way. I think I’m happier being armed with a paper ticket…and suspect the train guards would be happier if I was as well.
Bags of time so a bit of a wander up from Bristol Templemeads Station to the central area. I’m carrying stuff for an overnight camping stop at a festival on Saturday so a bit laden down to start skipping through town and over to the Rough Trade shop as I had envisaged.
I head for the oldest pub in Bristol, The Hatchet Inn – a good spot, handily just over from the O2 Academy before meeting up with gig buddy Dave (DPi) and dumping my stuff in his car. Then it’s off to Wongs, great Chinese restaurant just up the street from the Hatchet.
Finished the food. Bags of time. Strolled over to the O2 for more mobile phone fannying about… O2 priority App has gone into some sort of slow opening protest – against queue jumping maybe. Where is the NHS Covid pass? It was here earlier .. found it…nearly there…through the metal detector….phone in the tray… through..bugger, the pass has disappeared again. Security chap points a scanner at my phone and ‘ping’, I’m in. Up the steps and through the glass doors into the gig…IT’S STARTED! It’s 7.35pm! The Lightning Seeds are on stage cracking on with their first song, accompanied by a huge spinning strawberry illustrating the cover of the album being showcased/ celebrated on the tour: Jollification, 25 years of it..well 27 now.
Apparently the Lightning Seeds didn’t tour properly until this, their third album, Jollification, was released in September 1994. Although familiar with it I didn’t buy this one.
I bought the 1996 album Dizzy Heights and the first of two greatest hits albums Like You Do…The Best of the Lightning Seeds (1997), no doubt aided by some Euro 96 enthusiasm for Three Lions – 30 years of hurt and all that. Also it was in 1997, November, that I saw them play at the London Astoria on Tottenham Court Road. That’s the only time I can remember seeing them prior to tonight. I browsed a few festivals but couldn’t come up with any other possibles.
I’ve not really come across many people who’ve professed to like the Lightning Seeds – not a t-shirt you see worn very often. My Dizzy Heights album with its pure jubilant pop Sugar Coated Iceberg and Waiting for the Day to Happen, I think it may have been something of a guilty pleasure of mine. Well there are plenty more who have sneaked out to see this one. It’s busy without being rammed.
On stage with the revolving giant strawberry tonight are main man Ian Broudie – who is the voice and the writer for the Lighting Seeds and has been from the beginning (as well as a prolific producer); bassist since 1994 Martyn Campbell and the others are new youthful replacements: drummer, keyboards; a youthful Riley, Broudie’s son and a bit of brass as required.
We stick on the raised platform near the doors once in. Decent view and with a medium sized side-on venue it’s hard to be that far from the stage.
The first part was a shuffled run through Jollification with the singles Marvellous,
Perfect and Change good early ones.
“Thank you for waiting two years for this” says a relieved Broudie as they prepared for the last song in the Jollification album section: Lucky You (co-written by Terry Hall eh).
Considering their clean pop sound this is pretty damn loud with a bit of distortion in either my ears or from the speaker above and in front to help penetrate the space under the balcony, in front of the way in.
We moved down quite easily into the middle of the main floor standing area in the break. The sound was better but my trusty muso earplugs came out of their little bag for a bit.
Broudie picks out a variety of his pop classics including Sense, What if… It’s not all originals though. Wreckless Eric’s Whole Wide World was a surprise – I have that on 12″ somewhere. Later a bit of Marvin Gaye.
There’s an acoustic version of Dizzy Heights and then a bit of brass joins for Sugar Coated Iceberg. Euphoric pop. What an uplifting song – YouTube vid in the link.
They round off the freestyle half with their early hit and universally popular Life of Riley before returning for the singalong encores. First The Ronnettes’ Be My Baby, another surprise – a good one – and then the unsurprising Three Lions, amid much grinning and singing. It is now a classic part of English culture of recent decades.
Everyone seems happy with all that, including me. We head out. It’s just 9.38pm but two hours of great happy sounding tunes have passed in no time.