Black Grape Live at The Garage

bg3Black Grape are back! And thats a good thing because the music world has been that little bit duller without Shaun Ryder and the boys.

The band are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of their debut album It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah with a UK tour throughout June and July. Although they played a reunion show at the beginning of April in support of Bez’s All Star Reality Party election campaign, this was only the third gig the band had played together since they split in 1998. So as you can imagine, The Garage was packed to it’s 750 capacity for the first show of the tour.

Support was provided by another Manchester band, Alias Kid. Recently signed to Alan McGee’s Creation Management, and having just launched their debut album Revolt to Revolt, Alias Kid showed just why they are tipped for success this year. Their sound is classic Indie, and is laced with just the right amount of attitude and swagger to really hook you. Unfortunately – such is the lot of support acts – the venue wasn’t particularly busy at this point, so many people missed out on seeing them. So, Top Tip for the day is if you’re going to one of Black Grape’s forthcoming gigs, make sure you turn up early, because these guys are worth watching.

bg12When you hear of bands that are to reform and tour after many years apart you sometimes think ‘Jeez, are they still alive?’ In Black Grape’s case its more a case of ‘HOW are they still alive?’ But like other great survivors of the music industry, Shaun keeps rolling on. And today, to be fair he’s looking fit, well and clearly up for the coming tour. Likewise, Kermit, who doesn’t seem to have aged a day in the last 20 years and who still bounds around the stage like a man half his age.

The obvious focus of Wednesday nights setlist was It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah, with a couple of songs from the follow up album Stupid Stupid Stupid. Right from the first line of opening song, In the Name of the Father, till the last line of the encore of Little Bob, the Glasgow audience bounced, danced and sung along like it was 1995 all over again. It was really hard to believe that the band had been away for so long given how tight their performance was. That each song sounded as good today as it did 20 years ago is testament to Shaun Ryder’s often overlooked ability as a songwriter. It’s a real shame to think of what might have been had the band not split when they did.bg8

There is the possibility of more to come from Black Grape in 2016, but you should really try to catch them on their current tour. Also, the Happy Mondays are embarking on their Pills ’n’ Thrills And Bellyaches 25th Anniversary Tour throughout November and December, so there’s plenty more to look forward to.

And, as I’m writing this, Shaun Ryder has been confirmed as a guest on the new series of TFI Friday with Chris Evans on Channel 4. Now if you remember Shaun’s ‘legendary’ performances on the show back in the 90’s, you’ll not want to miss that!