My heart went out to Telegram on Monday, on the last night of their stint with Miles Kane yet still having to work their respective butts off to win over a partisan home crowd.
This happening Anglo-Welsh outfit may already have won over the likes of the NME and Radio 6 jock Mark Riley, but were back to square one at Preston 53 Degrees.
That’s not to say there wasn’t any love for them out there. Far from it, hopefully. But this was a crowd waiting for one thing only – the return of Birkenhead’s finest.
There was a laddish element among the students too, occasional football chanting coupled with general bemusement at the special guests.
This determined four-piece certainly gave it their all though, even if personable but shy front-man Matt Saunders’ stage banter rarely went beyond mentioning the name of the city he was visiting.
Telegram set the bar high, a raucous six-song salvo leaving its mark, complemented by a visual dimension – guitarist Matt Wood passing for Ronnie Wood’s grandson and bassist Oli Paget Moon seeming to have stepped out of late ’60s Haight-Ashbury.
If they were largely ignored when they took to the stage, they got a bit more attention as soon as they launched into the swirlingly-raucous Rule No.1.
Two of the band previously played in a Roxy Music tribute outfit, and I could hear that influence – at least from the Brian Eno era. No synths perhaps, but a shed-load of glorious guitar noise punctuated by Jordan Cook’s energetic drumming.
That set the tone, but five songs later they were gone – a few nervous smiles still in place – having kept up that hectic pace throughout, not least on the wondrous single, Follow.
But this was a Kane crowd first and foremost, here for one thing only – an express train performance from the Meols master.
My ears were still buzzing from the guitar assault of Telegram when Miles’ band took to the stage, and it took a few songs to adapt.
There was no doubting the passion, on the stage and the dancefloor, but the sound was a little soupy for starters.
Whether it was down to a few tweaks or me audibly re-aligning, I’m not sure, but they were soon delivering that rock’n’roll sexy soul riff Miles had promised.
Actually, I didn’t recognise him at first. Gone was the younger Paul Weller look, his new barnet suggesting more The The-era Johnny Marr or dare I say it, Phil Daniels.
But there was no mistaking the songs, with the night time the right as he launched into debut single Inhaler and Counting Down the Days.
We were spoiled for choice for catchy riffs, each song seemingly with a cut-out-and-keep singalong section, and next was Kingcrawler and the sublime retro-pop of Better Than That.
The band were definitely upping the stakes, Ben Parsons appearing behind his keyboards with a trumpet to announce the chirpy First of my Kind before a call to scream and shout (from the floorboards up) on the Weller co-penned You’re Gonna Get It.
From there it was Telepathy and the near-anthemic Taking Over, then the Arctic Monkeys track penned in Miles’ honour, Wirral Riddler.
There was a brief chance to catch the collective breaths while the main man tried to work out where the biggest noise was coming from – left, right or centre of this packed floor.
It was inconclusive of course, Miles deciding we were all ‘one big happy family’, before the more paid-back T-Rextasy of My Fantasy, and a more Arctics-like Tonight – because it’s never too late, apparently.
An extended Give Up incorporated the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil, so I suppose it was quite fitting that the laddish element got carried away and a couple of punches led to Miles stopping the proceedings while calm was restored, someone’s evening prematurely ended.
But thankfully this was no Altamont situation, the good-time vibe quickly restored for a big finish, the wailing intro of wondrous Turner-Kane floor-filler Rearrange going down a storm before Phill Anderson’s down and dirty bass signalled Come Closer as we saw Miles away (so to speak).
He returned for an impassioned Marc Bolan-esque solo acoustic run through Colour of the Trap, and then the Kane gang were back in tow to see us off in style with a storming Don’t Forget Who You Are, the ‘la-la-la’s still ringing out as we made for the exit.
For an interview with Miles Kane prior to his Preston visit, head here.
A version of this Malcolm Wyatt review was also set to be appear in the Lancashire Evening Post this week.