A Review of The Undertones at The Ironworks, Inverness (1/12/2011)
On Thursday night, The Undertones marked the re starting of their 35th anniversary celebrations with a gig at the Ironworks. How would previously cutting edge punk rock anthems translate to the contemporary context? Could the band provide an edge and avoid becoming mere tributes to themselves?
Setting the scene for the night was the Ramones heavy mix tape, an appropriate prelude for the mixed crowd, predominantly and predictably in their forties. With that came an initial conservatism that was quickly shed.
Of course with The Undertones you have a band that has successfully been through a transition of frontmen with Paul McLoone taking over from Fergal Sharkey in the last few years. Paul’s appearance was scarily close to Morrissey, although any confusion was quickly dispersed by his high kicking, hip shaking stage performance.
The band played it’s 1979 eponymous debut album in it’s entirety with the 14 tracks showing both the agelessness and relentlessness of the music. The obviousness of the omission of ‘Teenage Kicks’ ,it was not on the album, was quickly corrected.
The return to the stage saw the band joke “we were not having a break, we were physically learning four new songs”. From beginning to end there were 29 songs played , you would be hard pushed to find a song lasting more than three minutes.
The band itself were a well oiled ,with out being slick, unit whose enthusiasm was infectious. A wry sarcasm over the age of the band clearly on display ; “we’re half way through the album now, you need to turn it over now” and later referring to “new fangled CDs”. The self deprecating nature, combined with their Irish charm, helped put the tunes into context.
This is not a band held down by it’s previous success or shackled by it’s hits, but standing proud and giving the music. Indeed lead guitarist Damian O’Neill. remarked in a recent interview “All these years playing the same songs, it’s really, really special,” he reflects. “It’s so clichéd but there’s something between us on stage, chemistry, it’s true. It’s just a laugh now. Back in the day sometimes it was hard work.”(full interview here).
By the end of the night Paul observed ,of the crowd, that there was no more claps in them. Indeed it had been an energy driven night, conducted by those that should know better, but didn’t.care.
Written by Chris Lemon
Photos by Thomas Bisset Photography