O2 Academy, Bournemouth

The Wonder Stuff


It’s Friday night, it’s mild outside and it’s time for a gig Indie fans young and old have been waiting some six months for since the dates for this tour were announced. “Love from Stourbridge” paired two of the leading lights of this genre together for a tour first played out in 1988. Throw Crabby (PWEI) into the melting pot for added DJ’ing duties and you get a “not to be missed” tour. Reports of poor ticket sales prove unfounded as a near-full room witnessed this momentous event. We arrive early and there’s barely 30 in the room, but we needn’t have worried – it’s not often two heavyweights from a scene do a joint headline show of this magnitude. And so to the music.

Some background venue music is soon replaced when Crabby saunters onstage and delivers a set of crowd pleasers for the early birds. When he plays “There’s No Love”… my photographer suggests a touch of self-indulgence – I suggest it’s perfect for the night ahead. Another standout tune is Pete Shelley’s “Homosapien”, (well worth checking out if you’re not familiar with it). At 8.05, on the dot, Neds step forward to huge cheers. They open with “Suave and Suffocated” and already there’s movement. Jon (vox) is in fine voice and this crowd start to move forward. “Not Sleeping Around” comes next and the moshpit begins! “Until You Find Out” keeps the momentum as more punters join the pit. “Walking Through Syrup” is the first singalong of the night; Jon looks like he’s really enjoying himself now, while “Less Than Useful” sees real pit carnage as a heaving mass of sweating middle-aged men (and women) try to reclaim their youth! At this point, Matt announces it’s this part of the set where they bring it down somewhat. A chance of a breather is taken during “Capital Letters” and “A Leg End In His Own Boots” but parity is restored during “Terminally Groovy”.

Neds Atomic Dustbin
Neds Atomic Dustbin 123

A good mix from all three albums is enjoyed by all and the latter part of the set sees the most crowd participation. “Traffic” and “Cut Up” keep the moshers happy but the band save the best ’til last. The opening chords to ‘Grey Cell Green’ entices more punters forward for a euphoric singalong, one that will be remembered for years to come and echoes memories of years gone by. I can’t remember a crowd reaction in recent times in this venue quite like this. At the end we collectively catch our breaths and they end with “Intact”. Jon and Matt give heartfelt thanks to this crowd as they leave the stage. However, they were never gonna depart us without their most famous song. Huge applause brings them back and they launch into a raucous “Kill Your Television” which sees more dancefloor lunacy! I have to say it doesn’t upstage Grey Cell Green but equally doesn’t disappoint. Jon orchestrates the choruses while energetically leaping around the stage for the last time. They leave us on “Selfish” and the crowd leave happy. You wouldn’t know they were the “support” act tonight, such is the intensity of their performance. Jon exclaims ‘thanks Bournemouth, we will be back’!! I for one hope so.

Graham Crabb
Graham Crabb 

Crabby then steps forward for his 2nd set of the night as we collectively take a breath. He’s clearly “in the zone” now and grinning like a Cheshire cat. At precisely 9.45pm the lights go down and we welcome The Wonder Stuff onstage. Miles (vox/guitar) is also grinning, bellowing “Good Evening Boscombe” then launching into “Red Berry Joy Town”. The sound has somewhat gone up a notch but this excited crowd care little. Miles thanks the Neds for their warm-up and “On The Ropes” gets this enthusiastic crowd jumping once more. Again tonight it’s a set culled from an extensive back catalogue and there’s something for everyone. Miles exhorts ‘shall we go right back’, they then perform a rampant “A Wish Away”. The pit reaches fever pitch as even more punters move forward. Keeping us happy they stick with more crowd pleasers. “Can’t Shape Up” precedes the first of many big singalongs during “Mission Drive”, while “Circlesquare” is as hypnotic as ever. Miles dedicates “Caught In My Shadow” to his hometown and passionately delivers his vocal. “For The Broken Hearted” allows us breathing space although there’s no let-up in the volume.

“The Size of a Cow” is their mid-set highlight however and for once it seems the whole room are singing. “Golden Green” sees a reaction more akin to a Hoedown while “Cartoon Boyfriend” is as popular as ever. At this point Miles and Erica perform a duo of “Room 512” which is a pleasant song, allowing the remaining band members (and us) breathing space. Erica (violin/vox) is concentrated while Miles’s vocal is note perfect. The band return for the rather apt “Here Comes Everyone” and then begins the countdown to the four biggies to end the set. Miles announces that an online vote for the fan favourite song of the tour is “It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby” and this crowd springs into life needing no encouragement. Live fave “Radio Ass Kiss” is as popular as ever, as is “Disco King”. The final track of their main set comes in the shape of “Give Give Give, Me More More More”. A huge singalong ensues and we sing the chorus long after they end the song, with Miles orchestrating as he leaves the stage. For another good five minutes, this audience continues with the chorus until the band return. Miles exclaims ‘you carried on, nice one’. They were never gonna depart this stage without the brilliant “Unbearable” and this excited audience responds with energy. And they end with a lengthy “Ten Trenches Deep”. Miles’ guitar is so low slung now he’s almost on the floor and bang on 11pm they depart.

The Wonder Stuff
The Wonder Stuff 1234

I defy anyone to deny what a great show both bands performed. For those of us old enough to remember the early tours, it was a wonderful trip down memory lane. And for the youngsters maybe a chance to see just how good these two bands still are. The coming together of great bands of this genre seems to be a tour template that works well, long may it continue. In an era when manufactured “pop” still seems to be the norm it’s good to see great original music pulling decent sized crowds still now, some thirty years on. This tour was affectionately titled Love From Stourbridge – and on tonight’s evidence, there was plenty of love in the room.

Set Lists
The Wonder Stuff
Red Berry Joy Town
On the Ropes
DonĂ­t You Ever
A Wish Away
Can’t Shape Up
Mission Drive
Circlesquare
Caught in My Shadow
For the Broken Hearted
The Size of a Cow
Golden Green
Cartoon Boyfriend
Room 512, All the News That’s Fit to Print
Here Comes Everyone
It’s Yer Money I’m After, Baby
Radio Ass Kiss
Who Wants to Be the Disco King?
Give Give Give Me More More More

Encore:
Unbearable
Ten Trenches Deep

Neds Atomic Dustbin
Suave and Suffocated
Not Sleeping Around
Until You Find Out
Trust
Walking Through Syrup
Less Than Useful
Capital Letters
A Leg-End In His Own Boots
Stuck
Throwing Things
Terminally Groovy
Legoland
Who Goes First?
Traffic
Cut Up
Happy
Grey Cell Green
Intact

Encore:
Kill Your Television
Selfish

Video

Links
http://www.thewonderstuff.co.uk
http://www.nedsatomicdustbin.co.uk

Words by Ross A Ferrone
Pictures & Video by Dave Chinery (Chinners)

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