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Love From Stourbridge: The Wonder Stuff / Ned's Atomic Dustbin Co-Headline Tour - Newcastle O2 A

I must admit I got quite excited when I saw this tour advertised. My favourite band of all time is The Wonder Stuff. I totally got the Grebo sound so Ned’s and the Stuffies on the same bill all these years on? Well I’m in heaven surely. Throw in a Dj set from Gra of PWEI and just shoot me now; it can never get better than this surely?

Crabby started the evening off as the crowd filled the O2, sadly not many where taking any notice and his attempts to get the crowd going fell on deaf ears. First up tonight on this co headline tour is The Wonder Stuff. I swear Miles Hunt has started ageing backwards; either that or he has a pretty gruesome painting in his attic. As usual the first three songs are belted out with little chat from Miles. I won’t tell what was played as I don’t want to give it away for those yet to see them. The current line up of The Wonder Stuff (something some purists complain about as Miles is the only original member, the fact that two of the band are sadly no longer with us apparently doesn’t matter) is probably the best I have ever seen them. Dan Donnelly adds a lot to their sound, Erica, dare I say it, is far better than Martin Bell (my opinion and I’m entitled to it). The band play songs spanning their career, from popular to new, they have a slow down as Miles said there’s not enough defibrillators in Newcastle to cope if they don’t.

Miles also had a few choice words to the idiots who started fighting during their set. I will say I was happy to see very few mobile phones held aloft during a storming set from the band.

The band tonight was on fire, the crowd less so. There was a different feel tonight than at previous Stuffies gigs (I’ve been to a few so I speak from experience), an underlying unease. Maybe it was just me but the crowd were a lot quieter than usual. After what seems like five minutes the band are off. Miles shouts into the Mic “Give give give me more more more” which the crowd take on and chant back at the stage. A grinning band take back to the stage, again Miles commenting that it’s only taken him 30 odd years to think of it.

I won’t be spoiling anyone’s night by saying that they finish on a high with 'Ten Trenches Deep', played with vim and vigour as ever.

Mr Crabb appears back on stage for another DJ set, again, the crowd aren’t really getting it and I felt a bit annoyed when the Ned’s crew start checking their equipment whilst he’s doing his thing. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin then take to the stage. It is disappointing but the crowd seems to have thinned out, there were still plenty attending still but it seems a few didn’t want to hear anything other than The Wonder Stuff.

I love Ned’s Atomic Dustbin; again I’ve seen them many times over the years. The band were totally up for the gig, unfortunately the sound engineer wasn’t. All I could hear (and I was sat just above the sound guy) was the two basses and the drummer. Rat was playing his heart out but it was for nothing as he could barely be heard. Johns vocals were also too quiet, the start of every song we could barely hear what he was singing. I know most of the band’s songs by heart but when you are only hearing half the band it just didn’t sound right. Clearly Ned’s where having the time of their lives and played everything you would expect them to, obviously leaving 'Kill Your Television' to the encore. I do love Ned’s I really do but for me they need to record some new music or why bother. The Wonder Stuff outshone them tonight, partly thanks to a far superior sound engineer but mostly because they have new stuff to play. I don’t want to get into a debate on who is better as they have very different sounds and music should not be a competition.

To sum it all up it was a good night, maybe not the best night of my life, but a gig involving those two bands is always going to be a good night.

Review - Andrew Forcer

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