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.
Sun. Sand. Instagrammed images. Stock footage.
It’s all here in the new Sleeper video, when a deliberately retro images prefaces their new album in the video for ‘The Sun Also Rises’.
A maker of often undervalued and eclectic solo works, Bluetones frontman man Mark Morriss has a big cult following away from his “main career”. Over the past few years, he’s provided soundtracks for various David Walliams projects and released a brilliant covers album, ‘The Taste of Mark Morriss’, on which he puts his own stamp on artists as stylistically diverse as Madonna, Scott Walker and The Sisters of Mercy. [Watch Mark covering Sisters of Mercy in his living room here.]