To the Average Joe, the Britpop movement is likely best remembered by two major incidents: the Blur vs. Oasis rivalry which reached its peak in a race for the #1 spot in August 1995 and Jarvis Cocker’s stage invasion during Michael Jackson’s appearance at the Brit Awards in 1996. Neither had anything to do with the music itself, but were both big enough to over-excite the tabloid press. Those with more of a musical interest might also associate the period with great music from The Bluetones and Cast; hit-makers that managed regular chart appearances, but due to neither band having a tabloid friendly loudmouth a la Noel or Liam, weren’t always so sharp in making themselves known outside of the music papers. Both deserved much bigger success than Oasis.
For regular readers of NME and Melody Maker, Britpop covered a wider range of things and among the many indie bands that both helped shape that movement and subsequently rode on the coat-tails of the scene’s big sellers, there were a whole host of other guitar-driven heroes. For every two that made the charts, there were a dozen that were often left chasing that big breakthrough, despite regular press. In many ways, ‘Super Sonics’ is their story.
Recording a new album after almost twenty years could’ve been a daunting prospect, but for Jake Shillingford, it seemed to be a very natural thing. My Life Story’s big comeback ‘World Citizen’ has gained rave reviews from most of the people who’ve heard it.
It’s only about twenty past three in the afternoon, but the crowd at the Forum have already experienced superb sets by Mark Morriss and Chris Helme. For so early in the day, the venue had been surprisingly full for the Seahorses and Bluetones frontmen. At this point, it’s less full than it had been, but even the most enthusiastic Britpop fans have to go and eat! It’s a shame that so many have chosen to do so just as Salad are about to appear, but looking at the whole day’s events, Salad are the least traditionally “Britpop” of the day’s acts – only really considered Britpop by virtue of timing. That, and the fact that they’ve always seemed to be one of those “Marmite” bands, so in some ways, the thinner crowd sort of makes sense. Many of those still in the venue have almost certainly come to see Salad specifically and are ready to give their all.
Always known for his self-depreciating humour, Mark Morriss has only been on stage for about thirty seconds before he plays down the fact that he’s released a new album in the last forty eight hours. “This afternoon, I’ll be playing some old songs…and some new ones”, he says, before pretending to be complaining audience members. Nobody is complaining, of course. Star Shaped is so often about welcome nostalgia, but Mark’s fourth release ‘Look Up’ is great and the fans have had nothing but praise for the new record, suggesting it’ll be The Bluetones front man’s most successful solo endeavour to date.
Making any kind of successful comeback after a long absence can be a tricky prospect. Time can be cruel. All too often, we’ve encountered bands returning to the spotlight after a long absence and wished they’d left their legacy as a rose-tinted memory. For British baroque pop band My Life Story – a cult band from the fringes of Britpop – a full time return to touring in 2012 didn’t just remind the old fans how good they were back at their 90s peak, but high profile gigs at the Star Shaped Festival and a few other places helped to bring them a whole bunch of new supporters.