The biggest band to ever come out of Derry, The Undertones have managed to keep themselves rolling on strong since the mid-70s. Tonight, and backed with their new frontman, the group put on a show that this sell out room will not be forgetting soon.
Opening the evening is a lovable solo performer by the name of Vince James. Vince brings a delightfully eclectic acoustic start the evening and carries his serene melodies with harsh vocal edging. There is definitely inherent warmth to his material and is something that I could see many relishing in. He made for a great start to the night and is a name which I hope to see visiting the Brighton shoreline again very soon.
The room fills to capacity with a brilliant combination of colourful characters. Just glancing around the venue you can see a few faces who were clearly vintage punks back in the day and many others who spent their summers listening to The Undertones on repeat. There is a great deal of nostalgia in the air which, as the band enter, is transformed into a cascade of cheers and eagerness, you can already tell that this is going to be an incredibly intense show.
The band open up with ‘Family Entertainment’ and the screams of retro guitars and pulsing beats flood through the crowd, the songs transcend into a far more hard-hitting sound than their 70s recorded counterparts and the crowd are immediately jumping around to their heart’s content. The group’s new frontman, Paul McLoone, is terrific! He has managed to not only capture the vocal intensity that the classic Undertones tracks hold, but his energy on stage is mesmerising. He throws himself around the stage as if he wasn’t a day over 20, all being done with an immense grin spread across his face and not dropping a note.
The older classics keep on flooding out, ‘Jimmy Jimmy’, ‘The Way Girls Talk’ and of course the legendary ‘Teenage Kicks’ all make welcome earlier appearances. ‘Teenage Kicks’ may be the obvious choice for an ending track but instead made for a definite high point for the middle of the set. The surprise kept the set feeling fresh and added another spark of lovable engagement to the room, even small mosh pits can be seen opening up and the band seem just as thrilled.
The rest of the evening continues in a similar manner, there is almost nothing to fault here. The band’s lovable Irish accents are enticing and their bubbly personalities add a great deal of intimacy even to this sell out room. Paul’s eagerness to get even those at the back of the venue involved in the antics is hilarious and successful, everyone has smiles on their faces and know each and every lyric to every song the band bring out. It’s clear that many don’t ever want this set to end!
It is so fantastic to see older groups playing these classics, especially when they are easily able to outperform bands over half their age. Considering the legendary status of Brighton’s mod and punk scene, bands such as The Undertones will always be welcome in the city. It may have been six years since the group were last here, but after tonight’s stunning performance, I can see their next return being far sooner than we expect.