Review by Keith Sandys
The final night of the Britrock Must be Destroyed tour arrived at Portsmouth Guildhall last weekend. Featuring some big names from the 90’s in Terrorvision, the Wildhearts and Reef, along with special guests Dodgy. This was always going to be a line-up for those of a certain age.
The following 3 bands were rotating in terms of headlining slot, whereas Dodgy had been added to the tour as opening act each night. With everyone else allotted equal stage time, for Dodgy it was a bit like being the first band at a festival.
Much more part of the “Britpop” scene rather than the British rock invasion, Dodgy seemed a little out of place on the bill. With the first half of their set ramped up a notch, they soon started to fit in more than expected. It was however the indie hits “Staying out for the Summer” and “Good Enough” that were always going to be the tracks to remember.
Portsmouth Guildhall may not have been as busy for The Britrock Must be Destroyed tour as anticipated, but it was clear there were fans from all camps in attendance. With each band appearing to have brought their own backline, I can imagine things behind the scenes were a bit of logistical nightmare.
That said, the whole evening ran smoothly with every band on top form. So from the moment Terrorvision singer Tony Wright came bouncing on stage, it was certainly going to be one hell of a night out.
With the band all dressed in black and white, they still very much looked the part. In fact guitarist Mark Yates appeared to take those rock star poses in front of the mirror just a little too seriously! Then there was Terrorvision’s drummer, the only real change in personnel since the bands heyday, but they’d have been lost without him.
Terrorvision opened up with a snippet of their cheesy hit “Tequila” before bursting into “Discotheque Wreck”. Shortly after “Alice What’s the Matter” was thrown in and from there on in it was pretty much hit after hit.
As well as covering every inch of the stage Tony Wright entertained the crowd between songs, including filming part of the set on someone’s phone. The lighters were out during “Some People Say” and tracks such as “Pretend Best Friend” made Terrorvision a hard act to follow.
They may not have experienced the same commercial success as the other bands, but it was clear the Wildhearts still have a huge following. With frontman/guitarist Ginger as the group’s leader, the music has always spoken for itself.
After all, to their loyal following they’ve released a number of classic 90’s rock songs. Many of which came from their 1993 debut “Earth vs the Wildhearts”. As such it was of course this album that provided most of tonight’s set list.
Tunes such as “My Baby is a Headf*ck” and “Suckerpunch” sounding as fresh today as they did back in the sweaty nightclubs of my youth. Visually the Wildhearts didn’t stray too far from their stage positions and Ginger deliberately didn’t spend too much time talking between songs. Musically though, it was everything you’d want from a rock show.
There was also time for a sing-a-long with “Geordie in Wonderland”, a tune that could be an old traditional English folk number. However the set ending on “I Wanna go where the People go”, gave the Wildhearts fans everything they wanted, with some good old rock n roll.
While both Terrorvision and the Wildhearts may be stuck in the 90’s, Reef have since gone on to blossom late in their career. The most recent album “Revelation” being a much more soulful release than 1997’s “Glow”.
Reef live is where singer Gary Stringer comes into his own, his voice really is impressive. The change in musical style in recent years very much playing to his strength. While those reliving their youth welcomed hits “Come Back Brighter” and “Place Your Hands”, it’s the tracks off “Revelation” that have Reef aging in style.
The band has also grown for this tour with backing singers adding another dimension. At one point with them being brought forward for a duet on “My Sweet Love”. Other welcome additions come in the form of guitarist Jesse Wood (son of Ronnie). Just like his father, Wood’s enjoys the limelight with some great solos, lapping up the attention front of stage.
As Gary Stringer showed his appreciation for the other acts on the Britrock Must be Destroyed tour, you could tell he meant it. I’m sure while on the road they relived stories, reminiscing on days gone by. Which ultimately, like many of us 30 and 40-somethings, was all part of the occasion. The gig being very much a nostalgic trip down memory lane and I have to say, it was great to feel young again.