After a winning set by locals Deadwood Dog and a stirring late ‘70s/early ’80s soundtrack between, there was more than a frisson of excitement around 53 Degrees as The Gift’s upbeat instrumental Circus signalled the arrival of the main act.
Bass hero Bruce Foxton, guitarist/lead vocalist Russell Hastings and drummer Steve Barnard soon took to the stage, and above a background ring-tone, Russ asked, ‘Shall we answer that phone?’
We were off, with Setting Sons side one, track one, Girl on the Phone, 35 years on, and it was pretty much non-stop from there, transported back in time to a revered Jam LP.
The band were soon augmented by Monroze’s Tom Heel on keyboards, a regular Paul Weller associate, and never gave less than the proverbial 100 per cent all night, despite battling bugs and a nightmare journey north.
Bruce had said he was slightly worried about a click-track on Wasteland – a rare bit of live FTJ technology – but Tom was in charge and the song was seamless.
That track was just one that proved as special as I’d hoped, while Thick as Thieves, Private Hell, Little Boy Soldiers and Burning Sky were delivered with the right mix of angst and colour.
Bruce positively shone on Smithers-Jones, a live staple for so long, while Russ – still under the weather – pleaded for help on the evocative Saturday’s Kids and got it in spades from an audience where a fair proportion were surely too young to appreciate it all first time.
Again you always expect to hear The Eton Rifles from this much-loved collective, but they exceeded expectations on an extended mix.
Finally, Heatwave was just amazing, Martha Reeves’ classic floor-filler delivered at pace with the extra fire the original band intended.
You can see why Steve has that Smiley nickname, the latest percussionist’s facial expressions nigh on infectious as he led the band from the rear.
So where to go from that high point? Well, you’re never more than a couple of minutes from the next hit, and Going Underground, When You’re Young and Strange Town had this punter in raptures.
It didn’t stop there, a version of Larry William’s Slow Down, first borrowed for In the City, proving a real barn-stormer.
Russ mentioned that song’s rebirth in Liverpool from a certain four-piece while discussing the recent evocative Cilla Black TV bio-pic.
And talking of great ’60s bands, Bruce was soon leading us into The Kinks’ David Watts, at least a couple of generations of Mods clearly impressed.
The mood changed for the poignant Butterfly Collector, before the set’s thrilling climax with Start and a thrilling run through That’s Entertainment.
The love between this band and the fans is something special, and Bruce voiced appreciation for the threatened venue itself, while Russ told us how their reception had more than made up for his nine-hour trip from the South Coast.
A couple of minutes later, the band saw us off with the first of three more high points, All Mod Cons’ To Be Someone and Down in the Tube Station at Midnight followed by A Town Called Malice, every word seemingly echoing around the room as well as down the tracks.
It wouldn’t be enough to just offer nostalgia. It has to be fresh too, and on that count From the Jam have got it nailed on. Long may they shine.
* For a recent Bruce Foxton interview based around the 35th anniversary of Setting Sons, head here.
It can’t be easy playing second-fiddle to any band, and local boys Deadwood Dog had their work cut out earlier, winning over a big crowd at this Setting Sons anniversary show.
Yet this assured six-piece did commendably, despite having less space on stage than ever before. It’s a good job they can’t dance as well as they play.
Kraftwerk cover The Model always goes down well, and you can see why this treasured combo – their Eastern European influences worn on their sleeves – are becoming established on the festival circuit.
Many of the songs from debut CD United Colours of Bigotry were well received, not least the more commercial Out in the Rain and You Brighten Up My Day.
This also turned out to be a launch party for new single Divided Kingdom, and front-man Mick’s between-song banter, Daeve’s bouzouki fretwork and the band’s overall pride at being involved showed.
To get hold of the Divided Kingdom three-track CD single – also featuring The Beast of Bamber Bridge and Uglyhead – plus Deadwood Dog’s debut CD, and find out where to catch the band live, head to their Facebook page here or try via Dumbdown Records here. Alternatively, you can download the new EP via Bandcamp here.
And for a writewyattuk feature on Deadwood Dog from July, 2014, head here.
* With thanks to Mark Charlesworth at 53 Degrees and esteemed photographer Warren Meadows.