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100 Club, Oxford Street, London 23 May 2008

It had been just three short months since Stackridge had played the 100 Club but, despite the short passage of time, allied with it being the start of a Bank Holiday weekend and having to compete against several big-name attractions such as Paul Weller, a goodly crowd of die hards and those seeking a refreshingly new musical experience all turned up at the famous Oxford Street venue.

The band arrived onstage just after nine . The two ladies in the band looked classy, the six chaps looked well, like Stackridge, really. James observed they had the set list for another band and suggested Keep On Running was the first number. For some odd reason, they only had Codge’s set list between them but, as usual, Mr Marsden’s list was a thing of colour and beauty.

Dora kicked matters off in typically rambunctious style, with The Last Plimsoll following on. Mutter and James observed that there was feedback between this and the ensuing Grooving Along… but the brief sounds were more like ‘squeakback’ and presumably an attempt by the equipment to emulate Sarah’s whistle-blowing at the cessation of Plimsoll.

Rachel’s violin was especially sublime during this song. Mutter informed the audience they’d had it “too good for too long”, so he was gonna sing one now. Thus, The Volunteer, replete with lusty ‘bantam appreciation’ from a certain member of the band and a very enthusiastic “no, he don’t, no he don’t” riposte from the fans. Wonderful guitar from Mr Davis during this number.

The Tommy beat fest, Anyone For Tennis preceded Happy Birthday, Dave Fisher from the band. The man had turned 50 on Monday and his sister Maggi had passed me a slip, asking if Mutter would kindly mention this on stage. Mr Slater did but I bet Dave didn’t expect such a musical tribute as well. It was Syracuse The Elephant that came along now, a song chosen for Dave’s dedication as he has had a life-long love of pachyderms. I

t was then the moment for James’ “friend with a beard” to speak and so Crun told the true story of how he didn’t have any lubricant whilst fitting pipes one day, so ended up using salad cream! Dangerous Bacon and Friendliness came along, with Mutter observing of the latter, “that was pretty”. Yep. Pretty damn brilliant.

Time now to be Happy In The Lord before James turned to Crun and asked him why he wrote so many words to A Wonderful Day; Mutter pointing out how it was Maestros that rather weirdly floated Mr Walter’s boat. Then came God Speed The Plough. Sublime art needs nothing more to be added to it – it exists alone, entire, absolute and perfect. Plough is one such example.

Fundamentally Yours had made it into the first half but Mutter went into his pre-Dancing On Air spiel, with James jumping in and correcting him, Andy again produced some astonishing guitar work during this song, before Mutter’s “take it away. Please take it away” lead to his intro, now in its correct setting, for the aforementioned Dancing On Air.

The set closed out with Fish In A Glass setting everything up perfectly for the second session. And, without introduction of any kind, it was straight into Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime. The Steam Radio Song was especially popular and Lummy Days led to The Road To Venezuela, before which Wee Jim informed the audience that it was “Rachel’s birthday tomorrow”. (True).

He then claimed she’d be about 12 (Untrue – but she’s not much older). A prodigious talent and a lovely girl. Venezuela was one of those rare renditions, with Andy singing the ‘whore’ alternative line. The Stackridge Glastonbury Anthem, Teatime followed and at one point Mutter’s flute sounded like some lunatic bird, chirping. Beautiful, stunning stuff.

The entire band were seamlessly in their collective stride, with Codge supplying power and subtlety, whenever each was required and Glenn in his normal role of The Man Who Does 35 Things At Once. Speaking of GT, it was his lovely fat trombone riffs that so enhanced Save A Red Face.

Mutter introduced this as being from “Mr Mick – a concept album that was misconceived. The highlight is probably the end, the very end – unless Andrew makes a mistake”. No true, of course and Mutter’s ad-libbed “George Chisholm lives!” comment during one of Glenn’s parts brought appreciative laughter from many, including no less a personage than the two-time Manager, Mike Tobin.

Andy was in loquacious mood and announced there was a “real Yattonian in the audience”. Cue Purple Spaceships Over Yatton. The observations (of Eloi or anybody else) regarding Plough equally apply here and to Andy’s Can Inspiration Save The Nation?

We were duly informed that Stackridge did know Something About The Beatles before James shouted “segue, segue” (unless it was an obscure reference to Segway – the preferred band method of self-travel perhaps) and off into Boots ‘N’ Shoes they went.

Billie Jean intro and with some keyboard runs added by Glenn, some more ‘on fire’ Davis guitar a nd the debut of James on a ‘solo’ verse. The Galloping Gaucho and Slark ended the second set proper, with the latter having another highlight, with Andy singing the ‘creosote car’ and ‘Kebeeble to Kenn’ wording for the first time since the band re-formed in 2007.

Time was running short, so just the one encore of Do The Stanley. Nobody went home complaining. As ever, all were anticipating further great gigs. A victory for common sense? You betcha.

Funny that, as 'A Victory For Common Sense' just so happens to be the title of the forthcoming Stackridge CD, due towards the end of this year or early next. Keep your eyes and ears open and your wallets ready. It'll be money well spent...

Review by Ade Macrow

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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