Review + Photography by John McEvoy

John Peel knew a good tune when he heard one, and ‘Teenage Kicks‘ was described by him as his favourite song of all time, and was his families tune of choice at his funeral in 2004. Whilst the band may be a little older, it’s good to see that they’re back on their 40th anniversary tour celebrating the release of their first album ‘The Undertones‘, and tonight was a joyous, raucous gig delivered by one of Derry’s finest exports to date.

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Support tonight was the Neville Staples Band, and at this point apologies are due as unforeseen traffic delays meant got the venue literally catching the last five minutes of his set. Sorry Neville, I will provide a full review next time you’re in town!

Just after nine, The Undertones hit the stage and went straight into ‘Family entertainment’ which immediately set the tone for the night with their distinctive urgent choppy guitars, 100 mile an hour drum and vocals delivered by Paul McLoone who took over lead vocals from Feargal Sharkey when the band reformed in 1999.

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Has to be said that Paul McLoone is a natural frontman and his energetic and frenetic style reminded me of a young Mick Jagger, and Morrissey bizarrely enough. Both he and the rest of the band quickly engaged with the crowd and there was lots of inter song banter which went down a treat with the audience.

Between 79 and 83 the band released four albums and whilst tonight was a celebration of their first album, the set list this evening also showcased tracks from the remaining three offerings, and showed just how rich their back catalogue was.

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‘Girls That Don’t Talk’, ‘When Saturday Comes’ showed a band that was maturing both in terms of their increasingly sophisticated musical style, and the developing song writing skills of J.J. O’Neill (Rhythm guitar) and his brother Damian O’Neill on lead guitar.
Of course what the audience had come to hear were the biggies, and the band didn’t disappoint. ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ was the first of them with its distinctive rolling drum intro and ear worm chorus which had the venue bouncing. This was quickly followed by the mighty ‘Teenage Kicks’ which I think everyone knows what it’s referring to. If you don’t Google it…! A wall of fuzz guitars and McLoone delivering vocals with a passion and energy that made it feel like it was 1978 all over again.

If ever you needed a lesson in how to knock out a great tune that lasts less than two minutes, then look no further than ‘Here Comes The Summer’ with it’s joyous girl obsessed “long legs lying out in the sun” lyrics underpinned by their by now familiar attack guitar thrash. This is a tune The Ramones would have been proud to write.

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The crowd were loving every minute of this set, and whilst it was a 40th anniversary tour, these tunes still sounded as fresh as ever, and showcased just how strong their back catalogue really is. As The Undertones specialised in hammering out tunes that rarely went over three minutes, tonight’s set contained a massive 30 tunes, and I’m fairly sure there were a couple more that I didn’t write down as well!

With McLoone whirling energetically around the stage and the band delivering a masterclass in punk/new wave power the evening was almost over far too soon, but not before ‘My Perfect Cousin’ which for me is still their finest tune, and was delivered with sublime style and humorous incisive lyrics, and it’s good to know that “Kevin is still very much in love with himself and he’s still his mother’s little golden boy!”

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The Undertones were, and still are, a great live band and if you ever get the chance to see them I would urge you to get yourself a ticket.

You will enjoy every minute of it!

Set List:

Family Entertainment
I Gotta Get
Jump Boys
It’s Going To Happen
I’m Recommending Me
Jimmy Jimmy
When Saturday Comes
Girls That Don’t Talk
Thrill Me
The Love Parade
Male Model
Here Comes The Rain
True Confessions
Teenage Kicks
Here Comes The Summer
Dig Yourself Deep
I Know A Girl
Nine Times Out Of Ten
Oh Please
You’ve Got My Number
Wednesday Week
Girls Don’t Like It
(She’s A) Runaround
Get Over You
Billys Third
There Goes Norman
Listening In
My Perfect Cousin

See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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