THE GREAT BRITISH MUSIC WEEKEND
Wembley Arena, London
Without the slightest hint of irony in her voice, Radio 1 dippychick, Jakki Brambles, takes to the stage in time to fulfil the station’s live link-up. to inform the whipped-up audience that we are about to witness, “A showcase of the finest talent this country has seen for some time.“
That’s odd, we think. Where’s Cliff? Where’s Elt? Where’s Phil? After all, they’re the type of guys who are actually gonna be collecting the BRITS later this month.
Instead we get Candyland. But as they have yet to release a single, and have only lust signed on the dotted line with The Cure’s Non Fiction label, the fresh-faced audience are more interested in the T-shirts, burgers and beers in the foyer than in lending these young hopefuls an car. A pity. Someone has to get the show on the road.
And this Northside do. With their well paced circular guitar sounds, their raw timidity and perhaps because of their brittleness, they warm the crowd’s heart: all innocently joining in the “sing LSD!“ chant in ‘Shall We Take A Trip?’
On cue for the live link-up, 808 State arrive. Despite the 20 minutes per set ruling and the short gap between acts (occupied by videos on a large screen), things are starting to hot up. As expected, each band makes good use of the limelight by performing their most popular numbers. This, the audience seem to appreciate. Even though they are totally submerged in dry ice, 808 State are the first act tonight to reach all four walls. And hark! those vibes are definitely in the area now, as they’re even raving in the back row!
Smacking of a weak PR exercise to smooth over Jonathon King’s suspect tongue-in-cheek “I don’t like blacks and I don’t like females” remark of last week, it is then that Soho are brought on stage for a spot of back-slapping and to introduce the video for their single ‘Hippychick’. It backfires badly, though, as the video screen is still half-way through the previous vid when they leave the stage!
Ahead of ‘Stepping Stone’, which outsteps ‘Groovy Train’ tonight, the highlight of The Farm’s set are the opening chords of ‘All Together Now’; shivers send hairs standing up on our spines, and it taking a supreme effort to fight back the tears as Hooton proclaims this their song for peace. The Gulf war is barely two days old.
James are on form tonight.
After all this, headliners Happy Mondays hardly have to try. The foundations have been laid. Despite the hiccup at the start, where Ryder does his Madonna impression saying “f***” to the audience, they’re more than worth the wait. Could’ve done with an encore, though, boys. And if you think ‘Step On’ got as high as they’ll ever do in the charts, wait till the population wraps its ears round ‘God’s Cop’. It’s got number one written all over it.