Friday, 20 April 2012

Stare, Norwich Waterfront

In 1992 I was eight years old and into Lego and Mortal Kombat. Crazy times. Cast your mind back to a time when no English football team had ever won in Bayern Munich. Imagine such a world?

Keeping it local, the Barlights kick off the night to many appreciative hoots from the Owls present. I overhear comparisons being made with Grandaddy, Interpol, Gene and Ben Folds Five which (if a little flattering) all seem fair enough as the Barlights seem to have moved on from the 'Norwich Union' rock I remember them trudging out the last time I saw them.

So onto Stare; a Blue Peter time capsule moment, quite literally put on pause since their label decided to drop them and shatter their hopes of reaching the big times they were so close to. To mark the 20th anniversary of their Radio 1 Sound City concert at the Waterfront they are back and with the never released album to boot, having eventually been freed from the clutches of the record label. A rock fairytale or another sentimental reunion? One things for sure, at £4 a ticket they certainly aren't doing it for the money...

So they dramatically emerge through the smoke. The singer looks like a cross between Rod Stewart and Gordon Ramsey, sporting the most garish Tour-de-France style jersey worn by anyone since Jeremy Goss donned the infamous Bayern Munich-crushing ‘omelete’ top.

Anyhow enough about the Canaries of the early nineties, what is that I hear? The Boo Radleys? Carter USM? The Mock Turtles? Yes its true, Stare are as 1992 as watching Wayne’s World at a Freddie Mercury tribute concert (oh yeah, Wiki). The audience have aged a bit since last time (I guess?) but there is a nice buzz around the venue, which I suppose could be expected from this sort of (one-off?) homecoming gig. Their short, brisk tunes (JUST THINK ABOUT 1992 STUFF) are full of the elements good pop songs need. The guitarist, who looks like he borrowed his paisley shirt from Bonehead or Guigsy, brings these two decade old riffs and licks back to life with a genuine exciting energy. Themes revolve around the usual hopes and dreams of a ‘young’ band, now played out by a ‘not-so-young’ band but now with renewed hopes and dreams of a ‘young’ band. This is getting complicated. Like Peter Pan force-feeding Benjamin Button acid over the bonnet of the Back to the Future Delorean; we truly are time traveling, man.

Mood is a great piece of dream pop and Work which is partly played over a Margaret Thatcher speech, sees them addressing the unemployment issues of the day which don’t seem particularly unfamiliar twenty years later. Its difficult to work out what the future could possibly hold for Stare as they are so rooted, both in back story and sound, in a time past (1992 INCASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED). Nonetheless, for the band and the crowd alike, the future is irrelevant as it’s only about the past and tonights unlikely opportunity to re-live that. So naturally their sound is well received and put simply is really good fun.

Sure, some of the between song banter is a bit cringe worthy and localized, but I don’t begrudge the frontman his anecdotal musings, after all he’s been waiting twenty fucking years to have a go at playing ‘Jarvis Cocker’. Besides anyone who can wear that jumper and haircut deserves his moment. Towards the end there are points when some of the tunes lose their punch (the Prince of Wales Road track must surely have been a B-side) but a unique concert that transported me to an era that I never experienced first hand, but my record collection owes so much to. Escapism is surely as good a reason as any for a night out. Now to dig out that Mega Drive...

Sammy @sickbookies

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