Record Overplayed
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The Bluetones and Farrah | York Fibbers | 25/06/05

Britpop is Back!

Gig Review and Photos by Dawn

Ladies and gentlemen, do not adjust your sets; for one night only the city of York has been transported back to the halcyon days of Britpop, circa summer 1996... and it's bloody marvellous!

Let us not beat about the bush; York four-piece Farrah are utterly fantastic. Rarely do support bands showcase so much infectious energy or onstage charisma - or so many perfect power-pop gems in such a short space of time. Slowly but surely, frontman Jez Ashurst tempts the distant crowd closer and closer to the stage - partly through his humorous, between-song begging and partly through his band's utterly irresistible music.

Ten songs later there's surely no-one the mischievous, self-deprecating singer has yet to endear himself to and as both he and bassist Mish bounce around the stage it's impossible not to get caught up in Farrah's enthusiasm and sunshine-filled melodies.

Far from being yet another cloned contemporary guitar act, Farrah would be more at home alongside the likes of Menswear, The Candyskins, the Lightning Seeds and other similarly underrated Britpop bands. Both The One That Got Away and set opener He Gives An Inch have unashamed echoes of Jellyfish and Squeeze, but at varying times the band's wonderfully melodic sound also recalls Teenage Fanclub, Weezer, Ben Folds Five plus The Jam and a whole host of other punk bands.

From the sublime (the gentler First and Last is as beautifully stirring as Dum Dums' Until My Ship Comes In) to the ridiculous (Daytime TV gently mocks Richard and Judy and Jerry Springer, while lyric of the night goes to Famous Dentist's "open wide and say ahhh") Farrah absolutely dazzle and when Jez not only makes a audacious attempt to get the crowd clapping to new single Tongue Tied but succeeds, you realise that you've just witnessed something rather special.


Then not ten minutes after York's finest have departed, the headliners appear to enthusiastic cheers. Upon realising that she first saw The Bluetones almost a decade earlier, this writer suddenly feels very old indeed - a sentiment echoed when thirtysomething frontman Mark Morriss jokes that he's actually aged 45. But on tonight's performance you'd never guess that their highest-selling album Expecting To Fly hit the charts way back in 1996; certainly the band's enthusiam has waned none and the ever-charming Mark seems to grow livelier with every tour, even if the compact Fibbers stage does restrict his inimitable dancing a little.

Mark's repeated jokes about their lack of chart success may be true, but few bands in such a position have the luxury of being able to play anything from their back catalogue (be it album track, single or seemingly obscure B-side) and still have it greeted with equal enthusiasm and excitement; whether it be Cut Some Rug, Simple Things or the gorgeous Never Going Nowhere, the crowd still keep on singing.

Mark alternates ably between guitar, mandolin and his infamous dancing; drummer Eds is, as usual, in a cheerful world of his own; Scott's backing vocals sound clearer and more striking than ever and Adam's fingers disappear into the usually impressive blur above the strings of his guitar. With a DVD apparently in the pipeline, it's performances like this which make you wonder why it hasn't happened sooner. It may no longer be the '90s, but these boys could still teach today's young pretenders a thing or two...

With thanks to Farrah and Mark Morriss. Visit www.Farrah.co.uk and www.Bluetones.info for more (and www.Fibbers.co.uk because we love it.)

 

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