Inspiral Carpets at The Cheese and Grain, Frome, Somerset 22.4.2023 with Lumley supporting
The Cheese and Grain seems to be growing in stature and becoming appealing to more tours for something a bit different. My last visit, with a bit more info on the town was for Sweet. (Blog link)
A weekend gig meant a bit of extra time to wander around Frome, stopping over at a B&B (Rook Lane House), as it turned out with all four rooms taken with Inspiral Carpets fans – opposite a carpet shop – lovely old house and a friendly stopover.
New and secondhand record shop, Raves from the Grave was well worth a visit, it also being Record Store Day. I picked up a signed copy of the latest Inspiral Carpets’ remastered singles album, Generation X first album re-release and used LPs by TV21 and Wasted Youth. Bit of a haul.
Pre-gig involved a pint in The George, at the heart of everything on the main street done through the town, then up the hill to Italian restaurant Castellos – I recommend those. Best of all, a few doors down is Palmer Street Bottle, a craft ale bar that does a great cheese board and stunning ale selection.
Back down to The Cheese and Grain to catch Lumley. Cover songs with a 90s theme to get the sell-out crowd singing along. Enjoyable as a while-you-wait rabble rouser.
My preferred Madchester option from the 90s – it’s that organ – what a fabulous sound. I bought the first album Life (1990) and later that year was at Reading Festival for their headline set on the Saturday night – I just went to the one night, a regular thing I’ve done with Reading over the years, except when I lived there for a five year period.
How could anyone forget the full marching band of drum majorettes that trooped out for She Comes in the Fall – what a stunt. I found a video on YouTube. The Inspiral Carpets were chart toppers then. What a gig for those majorettes and the look on the lead baton twirler’s face is pride, fear and emotion: She Comes in the Fall – Reading 1990 vid.
Despite a fistful of very good albums, I didn’t see them again until this Frome gig. They split in 1995, reforming in 2003. The band membership has been in constant evolution. When drummer Craig Gill died in 2016 the band stopped again – tribute is paid to him tonight, the last night of Inspiral Carpets’ first tour for eight years.
The current line has three original members, although one of those, frontman Stephen Holt, is so much an original band member that he left before that first album and 1990 boom.
Clint Boon has been at the heart of that keyboard/organ-led sound since 1987 and he’s very much stage front for this gig.
The other original is guitarist Graham Lambert. He is joined by two newer members including a youthful Oscar Boon (18) on bass.
The sell-out, standing, Saturday night, crowd of 850 is over-ripe by the time the Carpets unroll. Wonderful atmosphere. I looked down at the floor to admire the array of trainers – a range that could grace any 90s gig – like an Adidas shop.
The whirling organ sound, so distictive, dominates. The backdrop throws shapes and tells stories of the past. The cow artwork appears (Cow Records was the first album label) – the crowd ‘moo’ intermittently, a rural touch adding to this market town venue. Reference is made to the early days when Noel Gallagher was the band’s roadie – maybe some photos appeared on the screen but for a lot of the gig I was off to the front right, before moving in front of the speaker wearing some ear protection and leaning on the rail.
The set leans well on that first album Life with more than half the set from it. These include She Comes in the Fall, Joe, which they open with, and that anthem of self-pity: This is How it Feels…. to be lonely. I thought that was their best track for years but in my mind it was eclipsed, as it was tonight by Dragging Me Down and better still, Two Worlds Collide:
“What have I done with my life?
Is this the end when two worlds collide?”
Both of these tracks feature on the Revenge of the Goldfish album (1992) – a really goody.
Frontman Stephen Holt comes down off the stage later on, to step on the front barriers, leaning over the herd, keeping his voice controlled and steady while the organ does its wild things, driven by Clint.
Well I hope I don’t have to wait another 33 years to hear this wonderful noise again (I won’t – they’re playing Victorious Festival 😁). It’s not just the stand out tracks, it’s the whole set. Yes of course I’d like to hear the 1990s vocalist, Tom Hingley, but you can’t always get what you want eh.
They finish with Saturn 5, a single from their 1994 Devil Hopping album. Top night – friendly, enthusiastic crowd – great venue to visit and stay in town for. Mooooo!