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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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Sunday, September 8, 2013

A new pop star

In this review by Adrian Thrills in the NME on 29th September 1979, The Distractions get more column inches than the group they supported.




LIVE!

Joy Division
The Distractions

Nashville

The news is out.  The hot poop of a new 'new pop' hitpack is in our midst in the shape of Manchester's latest contribution to the great British pop renaissance.

Ladies and gentlemen . . . The Distractions!

In the wake of an excellent second single on Factory in 'Time Goes By So Slow', my expectations for this, the fivesome's London debut, were high.

I didn't go away disappointed.

Onstage, The Distractions are a surprisingly different kettle of kinetic excitement to their mighty single.  A fair slice of the stylish subtlety and elegance they muster in the studio is lost in the confines of a live set.  In its place is a rough abrasion and an occasionally wacky exuberance that recalls nothing so much as the infection joie de vivre of The Mekons.

Their rapport with the crowd could best be described as 'chummy'.

Guitarist Steve Perrin spends most of his time between-songs making dedications to various members of the audience, including your reviewer.  In the centre of the stage, vocalist Mike Finney cuts an unlikely figure.  A sort of suave Billy Bunter type character in a dinner jacket.  "Yeah, it looks very smart," he quips at one stage, "until you notice all the beer stains!"

The set started badly with Finney's guttural, nasal voice coming across with none of the force of the record; but it grew in momentum with every song.

With initial nerves giving way to an obvious relish of actually being on stage, the group reached a peak on the yearning 'Time Goes By' and the closing 'Valerie': "I love Valerie, but Valerie's in love with you."

The only real black spot of the evening came with the encore, an unamusing murder of Betty Wright's 'Shoorah Shoorah' that was hardly worthy of The Dickies.  Nevertheless, it provided a good balance for what followed: the disorientating hard rock of Joy Division.

Compared to Joy Division, most oth bands working in supposedly left field areas are like light entertainers on the Saturday Night Special.

Never a group to conform to expectations, they opened with the new 'Atmosphere', an Eno-esque dirge of awesome proportions with guitarist Bernard Albrecht on organ and vocalist Ian Curtis on the unaccustomed role of guitarist.

From there on, it was the usual set, split equally between standards from the 'Unknown Pleasures' album and a welter of typically graphic new songs.

Like Gang of Four and the Banshees, each instrument retains a crisp, distinctive identity: the overloaded, distorted Rickenbacker bass of Peter Hook; Albrecht's incisive guitar figures; the primal, syndrum-embellished thwack of Steve Morris; and the gruff intensity of Curtis's vocal.

Fellow Mancunians Buzzcocks are a brave band indeed to take Joy Division on their forthcoming UK tour as main support.  I can think of very few groups who are capable of following them.

Adrian Thrills


Mike Finney of The Distractions. Pic: Kevin Cummins.



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