Music review: EMF, Oran Mor, Glasgow

Nineties survivors EMF offered a night of pure nostalgia that felt thoroughly alive and in the moment, writes David Pollock

EMF, Oran Mor, Glasgow ****

It took rave-pop crossover artists EMF 27 years to get from 1995’s third and final pre-split album Cha Cha Cha to last year’s comeback record Go Go Sapiens. And whether fans have been clamouring for this comeback or not, the crowd were overjoyed to see them at Oran Mor.

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Three of the original quintet are involved in this latest iteration of the band, singer James Atkin, guitarist Ian Dench and keyboard player Derry Brownson; drummer Mark Decleodt and bassist Zac Foley, who tragically died in 2002, have been replaced.

EMF PIC: Simon Drake Photography

In the gaudiest of early ’90s rave style, the middle-aged group wore baggy t-shirts, backwards baseball caps and flashing neon sunglasses, like they’d just stepped out of the studio audience of The Word. Their set, though, was exciting, animated and true to their original style, from the bouncy rave piano lines of I Believe on.

Atkin made jokey references to being too old, yet his signature soulful vocal whine was unaged. He proudly announced the once famously debauched ensemble as “from the Forest of Dean, keeping the faith since the 1990s, we are the Ecstasy Mother F***ers”.

Audience energy was kept up with a set built largely on deep-dive album favourites for the faithful (Lies, Long Summer Days, Longtime, the Brownson-rapped EMF) and songs from the new record which fit well with the old (the Clash-influenced Sister Sandinista, Crime of Passion, Sparks and Flashes).

They also play a new cover every night – the Skids’ Into the Valley here, in tribute to Scotland – and their old take on the Stooges’ Search and Destroy was also revived.

The classic hit Unbelievable was well-milked, of course, with the Monkees’ I’m a Believer – originally the Reeves and Mortimer-aided novelty success which split them up – reworked in a rock format.

It was 90 minutes of pure nostalgia, but it felt thoroughly alive and in the moment.