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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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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Something special

The first review of The End Of The Pier Shows appeared just hours after Saturday night drew to a triumphant close.  Here's Richard Hall's take on the Saturday night gig at R2 Rock 'n' Reel:




THE DISTRACTIONS - KING'S ARMS, SALFORD




Well over 30 years since the release of the glorious Nobody's Perfect on Island Records The Distractions are back with a new album - The End Of The Pier - and a couple of gigs at the Kings Arms, Salford. Will time have faded the magic? Richard Hall went along to find out.

I bought Nobody's Perfect back in 1980 and immediately fell in love with it. Over the intervening years its collection of melancholy, heartfelt lyrics set atop shimmering and wonderfully poppy tunes has never been far from my stereo. I think of it as a friend. The thing with friendships is that they are often best left to trundle along just the way they are. Many a relationship has been cooled by an unnecessary apple cart shaking. It was, therefore, with a certain amount of trepidation that I made my way across the Pennines to the King's Arms Salford for the second of the bands comeback gigs.

The band opened with Lost - a fine song, even though the ending went a bit haywire with drummer Mike Kellie of Spooky Tooth and Only Ones fame manfully trying to hold things together. This lack of certainty with the material was a theme that ran through the evening and formed part of its charm. The band had had precious little rehearsal (guitarist Steve Perrin lives in New Zealand), lead singer Mike Finney unapologetically made full use of his lyric sheets whilst guitarist Nick Halliwell and bassist Arash Torabi (outwardly at least) made light of the fact that they were playing some of the songs for only the second time. This mattered not a jot. If we wanted slick and soulless we wouldn't have been there. What we got was warmth and humour and feeling and the sense of musicians coming together for the love of doing what they do.

At the centre of all of this was Mike Finney's voice. He always (in my book at least) had one of the best voices around - a rich, soulful, gritty baritone that went straight to the heart. An unlikely looking pop star back in the day (and nothing really has changed) he sang as well, if not better, than ever and it was a joy to hear.

The set drew heavily on the new material. Highlights included Wise - an emotional, honest and quite moving account of (I am guessing) Perrin and Finney's experiences of getting together again - 'The girls all used to fall for the twinkle in your eyes, As I look at you there's still work to do to be wise' - and Girl Of The Year which I though was a bit lightweight on first hearing but has grown on me with every listen. For those wanting a trip down memory lane we got the wonderful Waiting For Lorraine and Leave You to Dream from Nobody's Perfect along with spirited versions of their two Factory singles It Doesn't Bother Me and Time Goes By So Slow. The evening was brought to a close by the irresistible power pop of Valerie and for a few fleeting moments I was 21 again. Goodness knows when they will get together again - the logistics of the band make this almost impossible - but for this one night they not only recaptured the past but added something special and new. Friends, sometimes you just have to trust them.

The End Of The Pier is available from Occultation Records.
 

R2 Rock 'n' Reel Magazine:  www.rock-n-reel.co.uk / @R2Magazine.

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