O2 Academy, Bournemouth

The Wonder Stuff

It’s Friday night as the weekend begins in style with two of Indie’s heavyweight’s coming to town on the penultimate night of the tour. The Wonder Stuff are celebrating two album Anniversaries with Carter’s Jim Bob opening as main support at every show. Having recently seen Jim Bob do a storming set at Indie Daze last October one wonders if he could reproduce this feat. We need not have worried, Jim is in fine fettle and delivers an unfussy set, choc-full of stories and anecdotes from his musical career. His attire won’t be forgotten in a hurry either – a red sequinned jacket and his now-familiar red shades and matching socks!!

Jim Bob
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He opens with a humorous take on “Is Wrestling Fixed?” and wins us over early doors. A decent-sized crowd have come early and are not disappointed. “Billy Smart’s Circus” encourages the first of many singalongs while ‘Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere’ reminds me of the first time I heard it in a pub in Weymouth, way back when. Jim says it’s nice to be back in Bournemouth – his previous visit being for his manager’s stag do! On “A Perfect Day To Drop The Bomb” Jim really starts to shred those strings as he cuts loose and appears to be enjoying himself. On “Victim” he describes a time when walking through a park with Fruity and about to get mugged by a gang of kids, when about to hand over all his money before Fruity dispatches a firm “Fuck Off” to their assailants. “Lean On Me” is another singalong opportunity not lost on this crowd and continues through “Shoppers Paradise”. “Let’s Get Tattoos” is a highlight while “Mrs. Fucking MacMurphy” is new to me. Jim gives a shout out to “Mr. Spoons”, before going on to explain that he doesn’t actually exist! “A Prince In A Pauper’s Grave” is impeccably recited by this knowledgeable crowd and garners the biggest cheer so far. We are also encouraged to sing the chorus to “This Is How It Feels”, his only cover on the night – again this audience respond. He ends the show with two biggies: “The Only Living Boy In New Cross” and naturally “Sheriff Fatman”. While the purists may hanker for a Carter reformation, one cannot question Jim’s ability to still make these classic songs work in this scenario. It’s all about delivery and creating an ambience, which he does – and some. He departs to long, loud applause as we await the main event.

Jim Bob

At 8.30 sharp Miles Hunt takes to the stage alone. He grabs a mic and in true toastmaster style, describes the night ahead with an air of pure theatre. It’s so different than previously when the band members simply stride onstage and do the gig – this is bordering on cabaret. One by one he namechecks each band member before they take their place on the stage. He then announces that the opening set will preview songs from their latest album before we get albums one and two in their entirety. With all six band members in place, they begin the show. They open with “Feet To The Flames”. The reception at first is a tad lukewarm but the songs are growers. ‘Lay Down Your Cards’ precedes recent single “No Thieves Among Us” as they start to hit their stride. The new songs sound fresh and although I don’t feel like I’m gonna hear an anthem, the song they close this section with really makes me stand up and listen. ‘When All of This is Over’ is the standout song of the five as the band leave the stage for a twenty-minute break.

They return bang on 9pm and launch effortlessly into “Hup”, beginning with “30 Years In The Bathroom”. One or two over-eager 50-somethings head to the front to get things moving. “Radio Ass Kiss” sees an energetic surge of bodies towards the pit area as we all remind ourselves why we’re here. “Them Big Oak Trees” keeps those energy levels high before “Golden Green” gets the “Country” vibe going with some comedy dance moves around me. All these songs are timeless and it’s great to see a decent-sized crowd has come along to relive their youth. ‘Cartoon Boyfriend’ and ‘Unfaithful’ are gentle by comparison while “Let’s Be Other People” is an early highlight, but there are simply no duff songs here. Miles invites us to go a little crazy during “Don’t Let Me Down, Gently” and we don’t disappoint. “Cant Shape Up” keeps the moshers happy while “Room 410” ends the middle set.

The Wonder Stuff
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With most around me in the pit area warmed up the band launch straight into “Red Berry Joy Town” which gets this fine old venue seriously jumping! “No, For The 13th Time” keeps us bouncing before the first biggie “It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby”. Looking around me at the average age in the pit, the defibrillators are gonna need to be shared! “Rue The Day” allows us and band a breather while “Give, Give, Give, Me More, More, More” gets the reaction it deserves. In fact Pete Howard’s (drums) snare power is in full force on this track and others tonight. “A Wish Away” really is the set highlight tonight though as both band and audience sing in unison. Miles (rhythm guitar/vox) has been grinning all night long and is clearly loving every minute. It’s great to see him acknowledge his returning bandmate, one Malc Treece with the riposte “he needed a break from me”! Mark Gemini Thwaite has a dual role tonight on bass and 2nd guitar while Tim Sewell (bass) tucks himself away at the back but is no less important, while Erica (fiddle) looks resplendent as always. “Grin” soon follows and is rather apt tonight as we remember why we still love The Stuffies. “Mother And I” takes the tempo down somewhat before Miles exclaims “this is the last of the gentle songs tonight” as he introduces “Some, Sad Someone”. “Ruby Horse” is a wonderful prelude to what is arguably their finest song and truly gets this fifty-something crowd excited. “Hup, Hup, Hup, Hup” and we go bounding into “Unbearable” which is just carnage in the pit. A Stuffies set without this song would be simply unbearable (sic). Miles tells the story of how the tour came about; and how they had missed celebrating 30 years of the first LP, hence the doubleheader with Hup. He went on to humorously suggest that the person who reminded him is no longer a friend (with a wry smile)! Anyway, on with the show. They depart us on the excellent “Poison” and exit the stage.

The band return for one final encore song “Good Night Though” where again Miles tells a story of a drunken studio session and a throwaway song, thank goodness they stuck with it. As the song nears its end the band leave the stage, one by one. Miles first, then Erica, Malc then Mark. Tim and Pete are then left to finish the set. Pete pounds the skins as Tim throbs away. Having seen the band some ten or so times now I can honestly say I am never disappointed. Bands of this era came and went and some have reformed. But the Stuffies never sat still. With the new line-up comes a new album and an enthusiasm to stick at it, long may that continue. And looking around me this audience has stuck with the band throughout. I hope I am still around for the 35th Anniversary.

Set Lists
The Wonder Stuff
Feet To The Flames
Lay Down Your Cards
No Thieves Among Us
Don’t Anyone Dare Give a Damn
When All Of This Is Over

30 Years In The Bathroom
Radio Ass Kiss
Them Big Oak Trees
Golden Green
Cartoon Boyfriend
Let’s Be Other People
Don’t Let Me Down, Gently
Can’t Shape Up
Room 410

The Eight Legged Groove Machine
Red Berry Joy Town
No, For The 13th Time
It’s Yer Money I’m After, Baby
Rue The Day
Give, Give, Give, Me More, More, More
Like a Merry Go Round
The Animals And Me
A Wish Away
Mother And I
Some Sad Someone
Ruby Horse

Good Night Though

Jim Bob
Is Wrestling Fixed?
Billy Smart’s Circus
Anytime Anyplace Anywhere
A Perfect Day To Drop The Bomb
Midnight on the Murder Mile
Lean On Me I Won’t Fall Over
Shopper’s Paradise
Let’s Get Tattoos
Mrs. Fucking MacMurphy (Teaches Food Technology)
A Prince In A Pauper’s Grave
Do Re Me, So Far So Good
The Only Living Boy In New Cross
This Is How It Feels (Inspiral Carpets)
Sheriff Fatman



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

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