RECONVENING for their 20th anniversary, or thereabouts, with no lofty ambitions beyond dusting off the back catalogue, this retrospective tour reiterates why it’s churlish to describe The Bluetones as Britpop survivors.
o2 ABC, Glasgow
There’s precious little laddie, anthemic triumphalism in the Hounslow outfit’s tunes, which run the gamut from classic indie-pop to psychadelic-tinged rock with unselfconscious ease.
Singer Mark Morriss is dryly witty about the group’s motivations, with their earliest material conspicuously fuller of hope and aspiration than the wryly reflective tunes they were putting out before their 2011 split.
Ambling on stage to Rainbow’s blowhard version of Since You’ve Been Gone, they open with their first charting single Are You Blue or Are You Blind?, all upbeat, jangly guitar verging into pub rock territory, before a stripped back version of Cut Some Rug that accentuates Morriss’ nasal vocal and the shuffly, ironic funk of Mudslide. Naturally, their biggest hits attract the greatest reception, with the retro inflected, wistful melody of Slight Return a brief, joyous highlight; the Hispanic-flavoured, bluesy rock of Solomon Bites The Worm showing a versatility beyond most of their peers, and Scott Morriss’ exuberantly bouncy bassline on If contrasted by his brother’s arch lyrics, building up to that sublime nah-nah-nah coda.
Throw in a wheezy, karaoke-style struggle through the Minder theme, I Could Be So Good For You, and that honky-tonk hymn to late-night drinking After Hours, and what you’ve got is a hugely feelgood encore.