So I went to see the Wonder Stuff on Wednesday; they were appearing on a triple bill with PWEI (Pop Will Eat Itself) and Jesus Jones in a night entitled “Sleigh the UK”.

I met up with my sister at Victoria and we made our way to the Shepherd’s Bush O2. We got in just as Jesus Jones were starting up, with International Bright Young Thing. They stormed through a number of songs off Liquidizer, as well as a couple from Doubt which I recognised, and of course they played Info Freako – but it wasn’t the closer, surprisingly.

The songs were good, but it seemed there was something missing; I’m not sure what it was, but the music didn’t seem quite rounded out. It was very enjoyable though, and I felt the hairs on the back of my neck prickle at several points during the set.

Next up were PWEI, which now only contains one original member – Graham Crabb. But he’s backed up by (apparently) an ex-member of Gaye Bikers on Acid, and they certainly look like they’re having fun on stage. The guitarists looked younger, but also joined in the fun. I saw PWEI last year at the Concorde II in Brighton and was initially sceptical, but they produced a full-on wall of sound and they know how to get their crowd moving. There was some serious moshpit action, which looked scary to me! But from my vantage point, they were the highlight of the night.

Lastly, The Wonder Stuff came on. Again, they only contain one original member, but I think we would all agree that Miles Hunt is the original member; he was the songwriter, the mouthpiece and the creative engine-room of the band. Miles took the stage like the all-conquering hero he is, but the band didn’t seem to interact at all. It seemed like they were doing it by the numbers, and the only one enjoying themself was Miles. Things did pick up a bit when Erica left the stage so that the band could “play their boys’ music”, and the band romped through a few of their hits, but it was 22:45 by this time, and it was too little, too late.

The last time I saw the Wonder Stuff, Malc Treece and Martin Gilks were onstage (must have been 2005 or 2006) and the sense of communal enjoyment was palpable. It just wasn’t there last Wednesday, and it probably would have been better billed as “Miles Hunt sings The Wonder Stuff”. I still listen to ‘Groove Machine and Hup, and I was reminded how good Never Loved Elvissounds (and my sister re-bought that for me a few years ago). I also have Escape From Rubbish Island and Suspended By Stars from their new incarnation, so I think the creative spark is there, but there was some enjoyment, some joie de vivre missing from the gig.

I’m glad I went; it was good to see Caroline and hear Jesus Jones and PWEI again, and Miles had his moments, but I shan’t be attending Sleigh the UK 2013.

TTFN !! 

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