Engine Rooms, Southampton

The Undertones

It’s Saturday night, it’s a balmy evening and we’re in Southampton for a major league doubleheader of a musical bill. After driving around the estate a few times we finally settle on a suitable parking spot outside the frequently visited Hampshire music venue the Engine Rooms. As we walk towards the venue we can hear “Gangsters” at full volume which can only mean one thing, with the Specials not in town it must be the Neville Staples Band. We venture inside a packed Engine Rooms to witness Neville and band belting out a stellar Ska set to great applause. It’s a set list to die for and we get to the bar in time for ‘Johnny Too Bad’ and the first big singalong during “Play a Song for Me”. “Little Bitch” is an early highlight before the entire room sing in unison the “woah, woah’s” during “Pressure Drop”. Neville introduces “Monkey Man” with the usual gusto as this middle-aged crowd begin to find their feet. “Really Saying Something” sees “Sugary” Staples open her lungs and take centre stage.

The set highlight though has to be the whole room singing along to ‘A Message to You Rudy’. It’s like being transported back in time to the late 70’s in a sweaty Coventry music venue. “Do The Dog” sees Neville in fine voice while “The Lunatics…” seems as relevant today as the year it was released. However, the highlight for me tonight has to be the acapella version of “Do Nothing”. Again the punters respond as they follow this with a haunting “Ghost Town”. They end this fantastic set with “Guns of Navarone” and receive wondrous applause. How will Derry’s finest follow that?!

Neville Staple Band
Neville Staple Band 12345678910

The last time The Undertones graced this very stage was four years ago on their 40th Anniversary Tour. Tonight they are back in fine form on this; the last date of their current UK Tour, before jetting off across the pond. And tonight they are welcomed on stage by “celebrity fan”, one Chris Packham. Chris uses his brief stage presence for a quick political rant before he enthusiastically welcomes the band on stage. They open as always with “Family Entertainment” with Paul McLoone (vox) shapeshifting from the outset. It’s boiling in here so it takes a while before the punters find their feet. “I Gotta Getta” precedes “Jump Boys” which encourages a few pogo’s while on “It’s Going to Happen” they invite Neville’s trombonist Spencer to join them on stage – sadly Damian’s guitar is turned up so loud you can barely hear him. Spencer leaves stage immediately after as they play “Tearproof” and the room explodes into life with “Jimmy Jimmy”.

There’s a good mixture of material from throughout their 40+ year career including the excellent “When Saturday Comes”. “Girls That Don’t Talk” precedes an excellent “Thrill Me” which sees Paul (vox) really come into his own as he patrols the stage from side to side. There’s the usual banter between Michael and Paul throughout as they humour one another, but sticking with the job in hand “Male Model” sees some wild crowd exuberance which leads to panic from the security, who assume it’s something much more. Paul leans forward and tells the security to “get a grip, this is a Punk Rock show”!! The crowd respond with solidarity and “Here Comes The Rain” seems out of place on such a warm evening. “True Confessions” is simply a warm-up for “Teenage Kicks” which sees this audience begin to go wild. “Here Comes The Summer” is equally well received and “Nine Times Out Of Ten” makes a welcome return. Again Damian is having sound issues which give the band another breather before an electric “You’ve Got My Number” begins a five-song foray towards the end of this epic setlist, which ends on the rather excellent “My Perfect Cousin” and sees this crowd in fine voice.

The Undertones
The Undertones 123456789

The encore welcomes another five crowd favourites, starting with “Billy’s Third” and a great “There Goes Norman”. “Listening In” is delivered at breakneck speed while “Hypnotised” is the penultimate singalong. Paul then thanks us all for coming before introducing the perfect curtain raiser, “My Perfect Cousin”. We go wild one last time and that folks was that. Paul goes to great lengths to not just thank the support; but us, the sound, the bar and venue. After all these years it’s refreshing to see a band who can still deliver a 90 minute set of classic songs in blistering heat to a full room. I have no doubt they will return so until next time…..

Set List
The Undertones
Family Entertainment
I Gotta Getta
Jump Boys
It’s Going to Happen
I’m Recommending Me
Jimmy Jimmy
When Saturday Comes
Girls That Don’t Talk
Thrill Me
The Love Parade
Male Model
Here Comes the Rain
True Confessions
Teenage Kicks
Here Comes the Summer
Dig Yourself Deep
I Know a Girl
Nine Times out of Ten
Oh Please
You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It!)
Wednesday Week
Girls Don’t Like It
(She’s a) Runaround
Get Over You

Billy’s Third
There Goes Norman
Listening In
My Perfect Cousin

Neville Staple Band
Gangsters (The Specials song)
Johnny Too Bad (The Slickers cover)
Play a Song For Me
Little Bitch (The Specials song)
Pressure Drop (The Maytals cover)
Monkey Man (Toots & The Maytals cover)
Really Saying Something (The Velvelettes cover)
A Message to You, Rudy (Dandy Livingstone cover)
Do the Dog (Rufus Thomas cover)
The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum (Fun Boy Three song)
Original Rudegirl Sound
Longshot Kick De Bucket (The Pioneers cover)
Skinhead Moonstomp (Symarip cover)
Do Nothing (The Specials song)
Ghost Town (The Specials song)
Guns of Navarone




Words by Ross A. Ferrone.
Pictures & Videos by David Chinery (Chinners).

The Undertones

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