That Was The Weekend That Was – Rotherbeat Raises The Roof (Once Again)
So, how was it for you?
Well, i for one had a great time and was lucky enough to attend both of the Mumm-Ra gigs at Flairz, in Hastings, on 19th and 20th October. I wasn’t planning on going both days, but i enjoyed the Friday night gig so much that i managed to buy a ticket for Saturday night afterwards.
Here are my thoughts:
First up on the Friday night were Mumm-Ra’s fellow Rotherbeat exponents Youngplan, who seemed to start exactly where they left off five years ago. It was almost like they’d never been away and they didn’t even look any different, apart from Dale’s beard that is.
All the old favourites were there, ‘Fistfight’, ‘Little Things’ and they even managed to squeeze in a brand new song as well. That’s quite something for a one off gig.
Unsurprisingly, for a first gig together in five years, there was the odd bum note. But, these were always accompanied by smiles and knowing glances between the band members. All of whom seemed to be having a great time being on a stage together once again. Apparently, Youngplan had only had two rehearsals for this gig, but you wouldn’t have known it.
For me and i’m sure for many others too, it was a great trip down memory lane. Having seen Youngplan many times, back in the day, i was wondering if they’d manage to recreate what made them such a good live band all those years ago. But, they certainly didn’t disappoint and finished off a storming set with the very popular ‘Moses to Motown’.
Other individual gig commitments meant that Youngplan were unable to play on the Saturday night as well. But, it was good to have them back, even if it was for just the one day.
Of course, the main event was always going to be the brief return of Mumm-Ra and there was a definite sense of excitement in the crowd before their set. This was a real homecoming gig, with many familiar faces from the past in the crowd. It was almost like stepping back in time.
Starting, in a very unstated way, with the opening track, ‘Now or Never’, from their album ‘These Things Move in Threes’, it was obvious that the guys were on form.
As with Youngplan, you could tell at times that Mumm-Ra were, quite understandably, a little ring rusty. But, the bands obvious delight at being on the same stage together again, coupled with the enthusiasm of the home crowd, meant you always knew that this was never going to be anything other than a good gig. My Pierless Music colleague, Richard, commented after the gig about how tight the band had sounded after so long away, something i certainly agreed with.
One question on most Mumm-Ra fans lips prior to these gigs was, “what songs are they going to play?”. Well, the answer was, most of the classics and crowd pleasers from ‘These Things Move In Threes’. But, that wasn’t the whole story.
Two of the highlights of the set on both nights, for me anyway, were the songs not actually on the album. ‘Clocks Tick Louder In The Dead Of Night’, with its mention of Mumm-Ra’s hometown of Bexhill has always been a personal favourite and showed exactly why that is.
But, possibly the song that got as much reaction as any, was ‘Cute As’. James introduced it on Friday as a song that the record company had never let them play live before, it being an “obscure” B Side. Now, with their new found freedom, they were able to play this old favourite once again and on both nights the crowd responded, singing along to the chorus,
“So here we will stand if we all join our hands, Bring it back bring it back it is ours to demand, Yeah, open your hearts and we’ll reach for the stars, But refer to the past and I will rip you apart”
Great stuff and a reminder that Mumm-Ra weren’t always just about writing good three minute pop songs. Although i think most of this audience were well aware of that anyway and remember those early days with affection.
Of course the crowd were singing along to other songs as well, including the hit single that never was ‘She’s Got You High’. Among the several amusing facts relayed to the audiences over the two gigs was the one that ‘She’s Got You High’ was kept out of the Top 40 Charts by Travis. Whatever happened to them eh?
Inspite of complaining about feeling knackered and being too old to be doing this again, Mumm-Ra kept up the momentum until ‘Out Of The Question’, the final song of the night.
As homecomings and unfinished business go, this was right up there with the best of them.
Coming back again on the Saturday night, i was intrigued to see what, if any, differences there might be between the two gigs.
Obviously, there was a different crowd, with possibly more people from outside of the local area, due to most tickets being sold online. But, they were just as enthusiastic and sang along just as heartily.
The main difference though was that things just didn’t go quite as planned.
During the opening song, ‘Now Or Never’ once again, Niall broke a bass string! Now, how often does that happen? Thankfully, James remembered that there was bass guitar at his house and after stopping the gig for several minutes, a new bass guitar was found and off we went again.
(It really wasn’t Niall’s night though, as towards the end of the gig he tried to throw a t.shirt into the crowd. Unfortunately, he only succeeded in throwing it onto a ceiling fan, which promptly directed the t.shirt straight back at him. Much to the amusement of everyone)
Understandably, this took the wind out of Mumm-Ra’s sails for a while and i felt that the whole gig was a bit on the edge for a few songs. But, as so often happens in these kind of circumstances, adversity can be turned into triumph.
It must be said that the end of this gig, from ‘She’s Got You High’ onwards, was great and probably pipped the previous nights finale. The mixture of the crowd willing the band on and everyone beginning to realise that this really was the end, made the final song ‘Out Of The Question’ a real highlight.
It seemed that we all, band and crowd, just wanted that last note to go on forever.
So, there you have it. Two nights, two gigs and a great time had by all who were lucky enough to attend. I’m sure i’m not alone in wondering if “there’ll be a next time”?
“Over to you” Mumm-Ra, “yes, it’s over to you”.
Just don’t leave it for five years next time though, please.