THE UNDERTONES and HUGH CORNWELL: March 17 2022 – Brighton, Chalk
THE UNDERTONES had confirmed a run of rescheduled UK live dates throughout March and April 2022. Support was from the legendary Hugh Cornwell! Playing live on on St Patrick’s Day! Excited? Oh yes! Covid thankfully did not halt this gig – it went ahead and was magnificent!
The Undertones emerged from Derry in 1976, the result of five friends (John O’Neill, Damian O’Neill, Fergal Sharkey, Billy Doherty and Michael Bradley) learning how to play basic rock and roll. The Undertones signed with Sire Records and ‘Teenage Kicks’ was re-released, resulting in the band’s first appearance on Top Of The Pops. Over the next five years, John O Neill, crafted further pop gems such as `Here Comes The Summer`, ‘Jimmy Jimmy`, `You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It)’ and ‘Wednesday Week’ whilst Damian O’Neill and Michael Bradley contributed ‘My Perfect Cousin.
Now, some records just stop you dead in your tracks when you first hear them. Teenage Kicks was such a slice of vinyl. It was never a huge hit at the time, but it did mark the entry of The Undertones, and it was their first of 13 hit singles between 1978 and 1983.
Now the band may be a little older now, but you know it’s good to see that they’re back on tour, even if it had been rescheduled a couple of times because of the pandemic. And here is a spoiler – this gig turned out to be, as expected, a joyous, raucous gig delivered by one of Derry’s finest exports to date.
2022: The Undertones – The Band
Paul McLoone – lead vocals
Michael Bradley – bass and vocals
John O’Neill – guitar and vocals
Damian O’Neill – main guitar duties and vocals
Billy Doherty – at the back on drum kit
In 1983 Sharkey left the band to pursue a solo career and the remaining members decided to call it a day. The Undertones were to remain silent for the next sixteen years. In 1999 The Undertones reconvened, to once again perform their two-minute, three and a half chord songs to a new generation of fans in Derry. Fellow Derryman Paul McLoone replaced Sharkey on vocals and his vocal prowess and electric onstage presence soon convinced any doubters that he was more than capable of doing the job.
The Undertones: The Set
The Undertones hit the stage at Chalk in Brighton to the thumping Glitter Band track Just For You and and the band hit it up and went into Family Entertainment which immediately set the tone for the night. Then with that distinctive, urgent Undertones sound of choppy guitars You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It?), The first two songs powered at 100 mph drum patterns and fills and vocals delivered by Paul McLoone.
Family Entertainment –You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It?) – I Need Your Love The Way It Used To Be – Jump Boys – Billy’s Third – The Love Parade – Thrill Me
Hats off to Paul McLoone, he is a natural frontman and his energetic and at times almost frantic style and presence pulled us all in. And it was St Patricks Day! The set list highlights just how rich their back catalogue is. And that back catalogue was raided for one of my personal all time fave 45 rpm singles, Jimmy Jimmy. Back then that song captured everything for me. A stunning record and still sounds great whilst playing the greatest hits album today. Damn they were good, and tonight proved they are still good!
Jimmy Jimmy – Tearproof – It’s Going To Happen – Enough – Teenage Kicks -True Confessions – Oh Please
Jimmy Jimmy lit the fuse as a rather lively “mosh” pit opened up. I don’t mind a mosh up now and then, but it was pretty aggressive as members of the audience were bowled over including a couple of ladies, and they were not happy about it. So, please be aware guys before you start up, there are audience members who have paid for a ticket, maybe older, maybe shorter than you. They don’t go out to get hurt. There, apologies, rant over! Scene Sussex is a proud supporter of Safe Gigs For Women.
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The set selection proved just how much the band have kept in touch with their roots, but also highlighting a band maturing both in terms of the musical style, and song writing skills of the O’Neill brothers. The songs and material tonight ranged from 1978 to 2007. They were playing this fast and tight.
I need excitement, oh I need it bad…
The crowd tonight were here to listen to the “biggies”. The Undertones did not disappoint. Jimmy Jimmy was the first of them with its thundering roll from the drum kit which I previously mentioned, that had the venue truly bouncing. This was followed up shortly by the frighteningly good Teenage Kicks. The wonderful Teenage Kicks was delivered and it sounded great tonight, live, raw and authentic. Could it be that I felt it was 1978 all over again?
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Nine Times Out Of Ten – I Gotta Getta – Girls That Don’t Talk – Here Comes The Summer – When Saturday Comes – Male Model – Dig Yourself Deep – Wednesday Week – Hypnotised
Now if you find yourself needing a lesson in putting together a 2 minute belter then you wont go far wrong using the Undertones model. A fine example would be Here Comes The Summer! Its a joyous thing!
It was St Patricks Day and the band were out for a party night and so were the crowd. It was packed in pretty tight at the venue, speaking before the show it became clear it had pretty much sold out following a surge in ticket sales. The Chalk crowd, well they seemed to be loving every minute of this well crafted set. With the set firing up the hits after every couple of songs it was a relentlessly enjoyable set. The inter band banter was fab and Paul McLoone took every opportunity to engage with the crowd.
She’s A Runaround – Girls Don’t Like It – Listening In – Get Over You
These songs drew the set to shuddering close. The crowd had put up a wall of applause and shouts for more! Like Buzzcocks, as reviewed here, every note and buzzing riff, every vocal word and note just ooze with pop/punk perfection. Throw in the mix of the sound of two guitars, a thumping bass line and percussion and you have a sound that packs a melodic punch and injects a huge shot of adrenaline into the music.
More Songs About Chocolate And Girls – I Know A Girl – My Perfect Cousin
These songs have proved themselves to be timeless and judging by the crowd they still strike home to an audience made up of all ages. My Perfect Cousin closed the set to a huge cheer! Some 30 songs packed in tight to a 90 minute set. Astonishing performance from The Undertones.
The Undertones – I cannot lie! they were just superb!
Hugh Cornwell an English musician, singer-songwriter and writer, best known for being the vocalist and guitarist for the punk rock/new wave band the Stranglers from 1974 to 1990. Since leaving the Stranglers, Cornwell has gone on to record a further eight solo albums and continues to record and perform live.I had seen the Stranglers a couple of weeks ago and you can catch up on that review here. Along with The Undertones, a fave band for me, was the Stranglers with Mr Cornwell leading the outfit.
It was a really early start at the venue, making way for a club night later. At 7pm sharp the man in black was here, in front of a capacity crowd in Chalk, Brighton. I really could not believe I was getting the chance to see the man live! Hugh Cornwell’s supporting slot gave us a short, brief but fascinating walk through his musical output both as a solo artist and of course, with The Stranglers.
Black Hair Black Eyes Black Suit – Big Bug – Duchess – Mr. Leather – Skin Deep and Monster
The two opening numbers from a rather tasty solo album was followed up by a Stranglers classic Duchess. “They don’t write em like that any more” he quipped and had a huge cheer from the crowd. It was odd the crowd stood transfixed by this man playing his black guitar. He had us hanging around on every note, lyric and spoken word. His backing electric outfit were top form. Put the three of them together and we were witnessing something truly special.
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There was no “Good Evening Brighton – How y’all doing” or “C’mon Brighton lets see those hands”, Mr Cornwell doesn’t need any of that, he connects. Simple. We had some delightful stories involving Lou Reed and more, following a false start he just said “jet lag”- stunningly simple, funny but so effective.
Strange Little Girl – Always The Sun (one of my top Stranglers songs) – The Most Beautiful Girl In Hollywood – Goodbye Toulouse
His newer material from his last album Monster is delivered on point. Some wonderful material. Damn were were being given a masterclass tonight. The workings and interpretations of some classic Stranglers material was heart stoppingly good. We all took part in what was similar to a community sing-along of Always the Sun, it went down a storm with his audience. Taking a swig of water he joked “ahh nothing like pure Vodka”.
As a writer/co writer of some of The Stranglers hits: Always The Sun, Nice ‘n’ Sleazy, Golden Brown and more, tonight we were shown how his songwriting abilities also shines on his solo material. We were treated to a track from each of his solo offerings Totem & Taboo, Monster and others. Cornwell delivered it in spades tonight, that voice is as it always has been, its smooth mixed with his own unique vocal style, and how he makes it look easy playing those melodies from his Fender guitar. This was special tonight.
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Bad Vibrations – London Lady – 5 Minutes
Hugh hammered out the riff for London Lady, the barefooted drummer and his bass player really did a great job, minus the keyboards, in bringing that song back to life. A stunning job on that one guys! The set closed with another Stranglers melter, 5 Minutes. And that was it, it went so fast! It really did seem like he had been on stage for 5 minutes.
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Hugh Cornwell can be described as one of the last punk/music heroes of an era gone by. I loved what he did tonight and as long as he keeps coming back to play for us and chat to us, I along with the 800 strong audience, will be there.
Hugh Cornwell is on the WWW here.
Thanks to The Undertones and Hugh Cornwell.
Thanks to Sonic PR and also The Brighton and Hove News music team. Thanks also to the staff at Chalk.
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