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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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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Sweet smiles and soggy vests

Another gig review from the vaults of the City Fun Exhibition courtesy of the Manchester District Music Archive. This one sees The Distractions travel along the A6 to Buxton to play two shows for a bunch of hairy cavers...

The Distractions at Buxton

Buxton, 30 miles from Manchester, i.e. one hour on the train. At the Ashwood Park Hotel The Distractions are billed to play two sets. I walk in during the first set and am amazed at the apathy on show. About a score of bearded faces staring out of the gloom over jars of flat beer. Not so much as a tapping foot in sight; which is a great pity because tonight The Distractions are ON FORM. Raunchy, incisive slices of pure exuberant NOISE. The sound is excellent, a perfect showcase for the twin guitars of Adrian and Perrin, duelling with alternatively diamond hard/downy soft waves of guitar lines and power chords. The dullers flank a sweating, whirling figure of perfectly coordinated limbs known to his friends as Alec, a skin thrasher of long standing (remember the Purple Gang?). Looking fairly out of it as always, a diminutive Bowieesque figure lurches around within her two square feet of the arena, pumping away on a bass that looks as though the Collosus of Rhodes would have found it reasonable size. Mike ("I collect wild flowers in a stamp album") Finney fronts the motley collection with showmanship approaching that of a ringmaster. Not that he actually MOVES much. He "emotes", using slight but appropriate gestures. I don't worry, there is no preconceived idea of "jumping about is last years thing, maaan". Anyway, no Iggy imitators here. Oh year, an excellent, throaty voice is heard, almost seen, leaping out of the speakers.

The reaction doesn't really matter anyway, as this is just a warm up set, most of the potential audience busy pissing it up in the plastic 'n' chrome bar outside the hall (well, room actually).

An hour of fairly good music later, the place is full to reasonable capacity and LIGHTS, ACTION, NOISE. The Distractions explode into action, whipping out one of their many self-penned rock/pop choons. This time there's no so much as a stationary foot in sight, although people are not exactly throwing themselves about at the moment. After three or four numbers (including The Small Faces' classic 'Wotcha Gonna Do About It?') a good selection of hairy people are having what appear to be epileptic fits in front of the band (this is cavers club meeting, remember, The Distractions are eclectic, they aren't into the band as audience syndrome, i.e. "Aw shit man, we're not playing to these wankers!").

By the first chords of 'Still It Doesn't Ring', a love sick/teenage break-up song that you wish you had written, the audience resemble a school of dolphins (all wet and jumping up and down).

The last song of the set 'Valerie' (introduced as a bad song called 'Jennifer' by the well known will and blade Steve Perrin) they're literally falling over and getting up again as one. Of course, encores, first a quirky, powerful reading of 'Waiting For My Man' and 'The Shrug', The Distractions contribution to popular dance music.

Sweet smiles and soggy vests all round. The Distractions, virtually ignored for a year (and we all know who to thank, don't we Paul?), play fast dance music, with lyrics that bring a tear to your eye when you catch them. They play music that your head can enjoy while your feet are pumping on; as opposed to music that promotes dancing on other people's heads. They make you smile. They make you unselfconscious. You can enjoy yourself. 

Can you really say that of your last trip to the Russel?



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