The Undertones – Live in Adelaide Jul13


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The Undertones – Live in Adelaide



The Undertones – Live in Adelaide

Is it really the 40th anniversary of The Undertones? Is it really the first time that they have toured Australia and New Zealand? Is it too early to call gig of the year? To the first two it’s a definite ‘YES’ with 40 years since The Undertones took their honest lyrics and driving guitars to the charts. It’s also the first time that they have graced these shores, but it it’s definitely not too early to call gig of the year when it’s only July. This was a night to remember with every classic track on the list – except MARS BARS. Its ok, I’ve moved on…..but how difficult would it have been to find two minutes to whack in the classic.

But we can’t grumble as it was a setlist that ticked (almost) every box. Enjoyed by a good crowd in Adelaide, to back up strong audiences in Sydney and Brisbane. Sure we had Teenage Kicks and the sublime Perfect Cousin but there are other gems such as Wednesday Week, Girls That Don’t Talk and the super smug Smarter Than You. All were as fresh as they day we first heard them and you could see different parts of the audience beam as certain songs were played. These songs speak back to a childhood all played by a band that seem to be humbled, and slightly bemused, by the adulation that is heaped on them.

Paul McLoone is out the front warbling and going through the pogo, the two step and a whole range of Elvis moves that somehow the band seem to be oblivious to. McLoone on the other hand is often in fits of the giggles at comments thrown out by bassist Michael Bradley. Luckily the audience know all of the words Paul! The O’Neills haven’t changed over the years. Supertight rhythm and lead that forms a wall of sound larger than two slight framed blokes on the stage. But they hammer it out. On drums, Billy Doherty, plays a jazz style that somehow pulls this all together. The sound is immense and The Undertones bang out tune after tune.

About the setlist, I counted at least thirty-one tracks – no MARS BARS of course. The gig started off with the iconic Jimmy Jimmy before I Gotta Getta and It’s Going to Happen. And the night goes on and it’s all one after another. Even the slow track Julie Ocean got and airing, proving again that this band, even with the adoration, was woefully underrated.

We’ve been very lucky with the Exploited, the SLF and the Buzzcocks all in quick successions. Tonight The Undertones were a level up again and although every one of those previous gigs was memorable for all sorts of reasons, The Undertones’ have somehow managed to amass this number of songs in a relatively short timeframe at the start of their careers and are still able to drive them home. They didn’t write about the Troubles but looked at life from a slightly different angle, forming a New Wave perspective that spoke directly to their audience. All these years hasn’t dimmed that one bit. These songs, these witty and totally mesmerising songs, still charm as they did all those years ago.

If you get the opportunity to see The Undertones then do not pass it up. There are few certainties in life but a great gig from The Undertones is a cert. They are on their way to New Zealand and then back to Australia to finish off this leg of the tour. Look out for a few more gigs in the UK and Ireland.

Review – Craig Grant




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