Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Undertones

Brighton and London. According to my records I have seen the Undertones, three times, but it could well have been more. They were a favourite band of mine and seeing them live was always awesome. My first 'recorded' concert was a concert at the Hemel Hempstead Pavilion on October 3rd, 1979. My sister was living in Radlett, so all I needed was to catch the train from St Pancras and she would bring me back to London the next day. Being a poor student, I bought a ticket for the next stop, Kentish Town for 20p, and succeeded in dodging the ticket man at the other end. The venue was quite impressive. The Undertones were supported by The Photos, an English Blondie-style band who I had just seen play on the 29th of September (supporting John Cooper Clarke). I still didn't like them. The Undertones on the other hand, were terrific. Feargal Sharkey not only looked so different to anyone else I had ever seen, but he had 'that voice' too. He was so skinny and so scruffy and I have to say, unattractive. He was all over the stage and even jumped into the crowd at one point to break up a fight. The songs were all belted out in that Derry accent and the crowd couldn't get enough.
Jump to April, 23rd 1980, and I was going to see them again in Brighton. The Top Rank was sold out and packed to the rafters. When the band came on at 9.30, the place erupted. We were jumping and dancing about like madmen. Teenage Kicks, My perfect cousin, Jimmy Jimmy - we were melting in there. My favourite song that always turned me into a crazed pogoing idiot, You've got my number (why don't you use it?), was left to the end. They played until 11pm and then played 2 encores. Not bad for 2 pounds 50.
1981 and the release of another album, Positive Touch meant another year of touring. I caught them this time at the Rainbow Theatre in London on May 21st. Although I wasn't completely sold on this album, I wouldn't miss the opportunity to see the band play live. Their now legendary live shows ensured that the Rainbow was full, and despite the mix of new, slower songs with the fast punky numbers, the band effortlessly went down a storm. Feargal, just as fashionless and thin as ever, could stun the crowd to silence with his quivering voice and then whip them to a frenzy with the next song. I lost count of the number of encores. They were truly magnificent. We left for home, soaking wet, emotionally drained and with no voice left.

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