The power of hindsight is a wonderful thing and for the most part, my mind was elsewhere today rather than on attending another Stuffies show in 2019 but once I get inside the packed venue I take stock and switch off the outside world and prepare myself to be entertained.  With a fantastic new record, Milo has certainly turned back the clock and tonight he’s promised to turn the clock back a full thirty plus years and dish up a helping of ‘Eight Legged Groove Machine’ and ‘Hup’ as well as some off the new album ‘Better Being Lucky’.

Milo took to the stage and individually introduced the band to the stage Malc Treece, Erika, Mark Gemini Thwait on Guitar and Bass, Pete Howard On Drums and Tim Sewell on Bass milo explained that before the band set about turning the clock back that they would be opening up with some off the new album ‘Better Being Lucky’ and with Mark joining Malc on guitar duty  they opened up with the fantastic ‘Feet To The Flames’ which opens the new album and already it sounds like its been in the set for ever with a familar wonder stuff rhythm and Erika adding her considerable talent all over the song its then into ‘Lay Down Your Cards’ a more gentle number but showing how the band have evolved and are still capable of writing exceptional music. Tonight with the two electric guitars riffing it up ‘No Thieves Among Us’ sounded great with the audience welcoming the new material and considering it was the third new song at the top of the set and their heaviest in a long time this is being brought to the boil nicely. Bringing the end of the new songs (the fifth to be exact) ‘When All Of This Is Over’ the band take to the stage left and announce that that was the end of act 1 and in a short while they would be returning with ‘Hup’.

As you might imagine there would be many in attendance tonight who might have had considerable more hair when this album came out a full 30 years ago!  The Wonder Stuff were about to try and wind the clock back to some of those memorable nights when they were the darlings of the NME and ‘Hup’ hit the indie charts full on and carrying on where ‘eight Legged Groove Machine’ left off Milo had unquestionably improved as a songwriter and possibly written their career defining album.  Me, I still love it and hearing the intro tapes go up for ’30 Years In The Bathroom’ I get the hairs on my arm stood to attention and think back with a beaming smile of times gone by and following the band around on some amazing adventures. By the time we reach ‘Golden Green’ the audience are loosening up and the 40 – 50 year olds throw caution to the wind and gingerly get into the spirit of the evening. Milo (still ) with his mob of curly hair which he throws around to good effect is like the peter pan of indie tonight complete with beaming smile as ‘Cartoon Boyfriend’ sounds as fresh as the first time I heard it.

Milo does comment that by the time ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ chimed in Manchester peaked too early but he had high hopes for Bristol that they had more stamina and he wasn’t wrong. the place was alive as ‘Hup’ cruised to a finale with the brilliant ‘Room 410’.  As we wound the clock back a little further for the thirty first anniversary performance not quite the same as the twentieth or thirtieth but still, totally in keeping with the Stuffies doing it their own way  it was time for the ‘Eight Legged Groove Machine’ portion of the set as the band predominantly stripped back to Mark picking up the bass and milo and Malc sharing guitar duties with Pete still behind the kit it was ‘Red Berry Joy Town’ time and we’re off.

To be fair they played it in sequence and true to the debut album and boy did it sound good. they managed to capture that urgency and vitality that was what ‘Groove Machine’ was about it was youthful and fresh and still to this day reminds me of my youth and seeing a band kick ass not giving two flying fucks what people thought and if you were with them then jump on board they were happy to have you and if you didn’t like em then so what they never gave a fuck but thirty one years later not a lot has changed they still fill decent sized venues and this is their second time around the UK this year and with that new album in tow the Wonder stuff are having it and without much fanfare they seem to be going about their business with purpose and contentment less a lot of the drama from the early years but with a back pocket stuffed with great songs. Tonight saw two albums in their entirety and half a brand new album seamlessly work together and had they played the best of the rest we’d have been there all bloody night.

I started to day dream about some of the amazing shows I’d witnessed in the early years of seeing the band and songs like ‘wish Away’ were great markers. Damn, by the time Milo introduced ‘Ruby Horse’ as the “horsey One” I realised it was almost time and the evening would be done. I didn’t want it to end it had been that good.  Mark and Malc worked well together and Mark fitted right in with the Wonder Stuff 2019 and as the band left the stage again after a spectacular and anthemic ‘Poison’ I realised there had to be an encore as there was one song missing.  It was the obvious encore even if Milo didn’t have his loud hailer at hand it was time for ‘Good Night Though’ and one by one as the song played out they left the stage for a final time that was it 2019 done and dusted there were no awful songs and all that glittered was indeed gold the best line up of the wonder stuff for a long time just tore Bristol a new one.  Can we do it all again next year for the twenty ninth anniversary tour of ‘Never Loved Elvis’  to coincide with the twenty seventh year tour of ‘Modern idiot’ you know it makes sense. why wait? call the bookers, It has to happen. Over and out.

Author: Dom Daley

Ah, Miles Hunt and his Wonder Stuff. A brand new album hitting the shelves what’s not to like? Thirty years in the bathroom from their first record being released is quite some achievement, sure they have hit some bumps in the road along the way and success has come and gone and come again. The important thing is we’re here now on the dawn of this their ninth album and whilst nobody is pretending it will instantly gratify the listener in the same way that debut did or ‘Hup’ or ‘Construction For The Modern Idiot’ But to believe it will be as instantly gratifying as those would be something else in 2019. however I do get excited when the Stuffies are planning a new record or going out on tour even now in my 50s,  I’m well up for it and on the strength of the last few tours and what might unfold this could be the dawn of something special.

Thirty years have passed and Miles and the band have learnt a thing or two but I can assure you that this has the hallmarks of classic Wonder Stuff and some. They’ve always appreciated the opening song needs to be something of a statement piece, be it a mood creator or one that sets the tone. Be it angry or mellow, whatever it needs to be good. so when ‘Feet To The Flame’ has the lush bass tones and ebow howl before the signature violin swings into action this is an impressive grand entrance. As it builds towards the first chorus you can’t help but smile, that knowing smile that this promises to be another great Stuffies recording and to move into the considered ‘Lay Down Your Cards’ is dramatic and building alright,  this is everything I was hoping for and more.

Eleven tracks covering plenty of emotions from the safe Stuffies territory or the mellow and reflective  ‘Don’t Anyone Dare Give A Damn’ with some great lyrics and plenty of twists and turns.  I love that some will be instant, others will grow and the pecking order of what I love will change. Opening up their records with a super-strong tune from the smouldering ‘Mission Drive’ or the bombastic ‘Red Berry Joy Town’ or the epic ’30 years’ this album has something for everyone, sure there is a feeling of nostalgia at times due to the trademark licks ‘n’ riffs but there is also strides into new territory.  ‘No Thieves Among Us’ has a heavy riff (the bands heaviest to date) but as the song unfolds it veers into Bowie glam rock territory but a great riff is a great riff and no quarter is spared.  To follow it with a lighter more dreamy pop orientate song.  The title track is poptastic with a great melody and some familiar rhythmic drum patterns.

‘Bound’ sounds like it was made for being performed live grand and full of big guitar strokes both acoustic and electric. ‘Its the Little things’ has some classic Stuffies vibe to it but its also go ta jarring electric guitar riff weaving through the verses behind the fiddle, excellent stuff! ‘when All This Is Over’ has some tribal beats and sounds like it might have fitted nicely on to a Mission album like ‘Children’ no bad thing in my book and the sound of a band expanding their reach. In contrast to filling every available space with sound ‘The guy With The Gift’ is sparse and laid back with the acoustic taking centre stage and some great vocal harmonies its some wonderful respite and time to maybe take stock of what has to this point been one hell of an album and one that will I’m sure over time stand toe to toe with what has gone before it in the bands illustrious career.

Every member of the band has their space to shine and that comes through in the songs, no single aspect outshines the overall record and the songs are what it’s all about which is the main reason we’re here right?

Sure there are high points so far and that’s great but the points I’m taking are the Stuffies are still pushing boundaries with a sparkling production (something you’d expect), Strong vocal and lyrical content. Excellent arrangments and a modern record that’s not out of step nor is it nostalgic or a definitely not going through the motions record.  It might be ‘Better Being Lucky’ but I think it’s better being a Wonder Stuff fan right here right now when they’re making records this good. Buy this record and get a ticket for the tour you won’t regret either.

Buy ‘Better Being Lucky’ Here

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Author: Dom Daley

The Wonderstuff in the Tramshed on a school night?  Couldn’t think of anything better if I’m honest.  Deja Vega takes the stage at eight o’clock and the room is sparsely populated and the band proceeds to give the people who’ve turned up early doors their everything but I notice the guitarist is breaking all sorts of unwritten laws with regards to how high to wear one’s guitar and the belt buckle rule is broken.  Me, I’m disappointed to say the least and can’t get beyond this.  The band is alright knocking out their guitar driven indie but the songs just tend to go on and any tunes get lost in the muddy mix even if the bass player wields a decent sounding Rickenbacker round and the one track I could make out ‘Mr. Powder’ tended to go on a bit too long but tonight was all about the stuffies maybe on another night under different circumstances my opinion would be different.

The Wonder Stuff have been on a journey and I feel like I’ve been on that journey with them from the start when they showed up on the scene playing guitar driven music with a bit of folk – plenty of wah and a heap of attitude oh, and bad shorts.  I love them then and I love them now from Milos lyrics and his spikey, abrasive, confrontational attitude and his mile-wide grin and cheeky chat as far as I was concerned they didn’t make a single bad song until ‘Rubbish Island’ and its not like it was rubbish but it just wasn’t what I wanted and maybe it was me and not them. Hell I even loved the acoustic solo shows the duet shows with Erica and I’ve loved their live sets they’ve mixed up in the last half decade tonight flanking Milo was old boy Malc Treece (guitar) and Mark Gemini Thwaite playing the Bass no less and finally on drums Pete Howard  takes the stage along with mainstays Erica and Milo they get straight down to business with ‘Mission Drive’ followed by ‘Caught In My Shadow’ and already its obvious that the band are right on it and mean business.  Milo announces that the band has been recording a new album and if it was alright they were just going to play a whole bunch of old tunes and weren’t going to fuck about with new songs (as if we minded).  It seemed everyone in attendance was happy with that although I can’t help but think it would have gotten the same response had he said they were going to play just new unheard songs.

As I looked around the Tramshed it was pleasing that the place was rammed full of people out for a good time on a school night. As the band eased through the gears it looked like they were having the best of times and it was contagious.  ‘Circlesquare’, ‘Red Berry Joy Town’, ‘On The Ropes’ and ‘Here Comes Everyone’ were sing songs as everyone got involved.  As the intros kicked in I found myself daydreaming to past shows like Reading festival and hearing them blast through ‘Size Of A Cow’ or Bescott when ‘Welcome To the Cheap Seats’ burst into life.

 

Damn The Wonderstuff have got so many good tunes from the earlier songs like ‘Ruby Horse’ to the bigger hits it was songs like ‘Wish Away’ or ‘Ten Trenches Deep’ that had slipped off my radar but not tonight – they sounded fresh and a match for anyone tonight the Stuffies could have gone toe to toe with anyone and everyone.  Although tonight was a greatest hits set they’ve remained fresh and continued to turn out albums that are worthy of the Wonder Stuff monicker and what a legacy.

Before we knew it the band had left the stage it seemed like ten minutes ago they began such was the good time we were having. With no less than five songs in the encore ‘Can’t Shape Up’, ‘Cartoon Boyfriend’ and the fantastic ‘Radio Ass Kiss’ closed off ‘Hup’ in fine style and probably my favourite album from the band which left the sublime ‘Disco King’ and to finish off a rare B Side ‘A Song Without An End’ to keep the anoraks like myself happy.  As I make my way home I’m mulling over what they didn’t play and why no ‘Goodnight Though’ to finish off with or how it might be nice to hear a cover of ‘Planet Earth’ thrown in just for giggles.  Oh well, maybe next time eh?  If you get the chance go see The Wonder Stuff because they are excellent – most excellent regardless of what’s in the set list.  Now get on with that new album – pretty please.

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Author: Dom Daley

Shows are selling fast so remember to book in advance, all ticket links are over at www.thewonderstuff.co.uk

 

“I was in New York a few years back and was invited to guest at a Tom Robinson solo show. Tom has long been an inspiration to me and given the opportunity to perform with him… well, lets just say I couldn’t polish my boots quick enough. During our brief rehearsal together on the afternoon of the show Tom asked me who I felt now owned the songs that I have written over all these years. I answered that whoever the publishing company I signed with probably did, but ultimately, I did. Tom was quick to correct me pointing out that all of my songs now belonged to my audience. Going on to explain that the songs I have written have been part of the sound track to thousands of people’s live and it is those people that now truly own them. He said that my position was now of The Custodian, the person who’s job it is to see that the songs are treated and performed with the respect the audiences deserve. It was an incredibly important thing to have said to me and something I have not and will not ever forget.”