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the official distractions website

Welcome to the official Distractions website. We will be aiming to record the history of one of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A bit of Rock & Roll history

Another review of the Friday night gig back in late August, this one from Bob Osborne, Music Coordinator at Salford City Radio, at his Aural Delights blog.  

The New Olympians

So here we are again... upstairs at The Kings Arms... drinking beer and talking nonsense.

However there is something slightly different this time, the great and the good of the '80s Manchester scene appear to have congregated on this warmish Friday night (with intermittent showers) – so we have a couple of "Things", a "Hamster", a postman called "Jon", a couple of "Mutts" and a "Kit B" and that’s just within listening distance.  Davey Hammond has come from Thetford as well – but disappointingly he has not brought his smelly flowerpot with him.  The object of all this attention is The Distractions who are back together performing live for the first time in 30+ years in support of a new album called "The End of the Pier" (which I must get round to reviewing at some point).

Tonight is a show put on by Occultation Records and three of their roster are performing... [read the June Brides and Factory Star reviews here].

I position myself stage left for The Distractions – I want to catch this in all its glory.  It's a bit of Rock and Roll history and it deserves some attention.  The legendary Mike Kellie is on drums (Spooky Tooth, The Only Ones) and looks in pretty fine fettle for a chap in his mid-'60s.  Label boss, Nick Halliwell, is stage left and June Brides bassist, Arash Torabi (who gets the honorary Chris Dutton [Factory Star bassist] badge for doing two sets in an evening in two different bands), is stage right.  The centre of attention is the two original members of the band Steve Perrin and Mike Finney.  I readily admit to coming to the band late in my life – I have been given a potted history by my chum and fellow DJ, Stephen Doyle, and having had a review copy of the new album I am fully aware of their work.  

Mike Finney in 1979 and 2012 (c) Nick Barber at flickr (right).

What all of that recorded sound doesn't prepare you for is the experience of hearing Mike Finney's voice live – it is one of those great voices – deep, resonant and full of emotion.  We get quite a few songs from the new album, and couple of oldies, but I begin to glance nervously at my watch as 11pm approaches – the band is around three quarters of their way through the set – maybe they have got a dispensation, as it's Friday night, from the dreaded 11pm curfew at the Kings.  But no – the sound man comes over and  says "three minutes".  Notwithstanding the disappointment of an early conclusion there are sufficient high points in the set to make this a memorable experience – "Waiting for Lorraine" from "Nobody's Perfect" gets a very warm response – and "The Summer I Met You" from the new album strikes me as being particularly fine.

Apparently on the following night the band got to do a full set.

Will we see its like again?  One would hope so, but with Steve Perrin being in the Antipodes there are some specific organisational barriers to get round.

Altogether a very pleasant evening in fine company with some excellent music.  Well done to Nick Halliwell et al for making it happen.

Bob Osborne

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