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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, October 22, 2013

Always get encores

This rather glowing review of The Distractions live at Dingwalls (London) comes from Charles Shaar Murray, in the 12th July 1980 issues of NME.

The Distractions


IF MIKE FINNEY did not bear such as unnerving resemblance to a young Harry Worth, it might be necessary to commence an account of a Distractions performance by some sort of assertion to the effect that the band are more than capable of providing a high spot in anybody's pop week.

The screaming incongruity of Finney's ostentatious normalcy - he could also pass for the type of comedian who will sing 'He'll Have To Go' at the end of his spot - and his voice - a rough, anguished affair that shows its Northern Soul roots with every syllable - makes him the ideal front man for The Distractions, a group whose principle stock-in-trade is Yorkshire pop that is simultaneously frothy and mordant.  The band's principle songwriter, Steve Perrin - the young man with the Wilko fetish - is allegedly on the verge of departure from the band, which gives the occasion a note of added poignancy.

While Finney blustered and performs timidly exhibitionistic dance steps and Perrin Wilks away on his side of the stage, Adrian Wright - the band's other guitarist, being seemingly constructed entirely of bones and veins - turns his back on the audience and mulls over some ancient grudge.  Alec Sidebottom, one hand in a splint, meanwhile demonstrates that the ideal drummer is one who actually listens to the rest of the group and Pip Nicholls underpins the proceedings with some exceedingly deft and adroit bass lines.

"Wiko and Howard Worth. Pic: Tom Sheehan."

The material that Perrin and Finney have composed for The Distractions fuses rhythm and impeccable melody - they know what works - with some exceptional lyrical twists.  The way the lyric of 'Waiting For Lorraine' develops is little short of masterly, and 'I'll Leave You To Dream' is one of the most effecting pop songs of the '80s (thus far).  In addition, the evident pleasure which the band take in presenting their material irresistibly contagious.

The only moments of doubt - apart from when I was informed of Perrin's possible departure - came when they played their newest material.  'What's The Use' introduced as "One of the new songs which Island don't like" seemed considerably dowdier than its surroundings, and placed one in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with an Island executive.

One of the most enduring touches was the haste with which they rushed back to do their encore - which included a riotous version of Roxy's 'Remake/Remodel' - almost as if they weren't sure that they'd get to do 'em at all.  They needn't have worried: after the renditions of 'Lorraine' and 'Sick and Tired' with which they'd wound up the set, they could've hung on for another two or three minutes without the level of applause diminishing in the slightest.

May The Distractions always get encores; may they always play as if they have to work to get them.

Charles Shaar Murray

(c) Charles Shaar Murray, NME, 1980.

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