Major music scenes pretty much follow the same pattern – a few big names at the top above a sea of chancers and imitators.
The Britpop scene of the mid 1990s was no different. There was the Holy Trinity of Pulp, Oasis and Blur and a wave of second tier acts below, earning far more success than they ever would have had on their own.
Elastica, Menswear, Gene, Heavy Stereo, Cast, Strangelove, Sleeper et al barely had half a dozen memorable songs between them and few had careers that lasted out the decade.
At the time Hounslows The Bluetones definitely fell into the latter category.
Yet somehow, 17 years later they are playing their farewell tour after six albums and a few dozen singles.
It’s hard to understand why they lasted so long. Granted, singer Mark Morriss is a likeable enough chap, with his between song banter making up for the rest of the bands lack of charisma.
They also obviously have a sense of humour, coming onto the Academy stage to Burt Bacharach’s classic “Make it easy on yourself” and the rather apt line “breaking up is hard to do”.
But despite the best will in the world, most of their songs are just so very ordinary. There were a few stand out numbers. Their first single “Bluetonic” is still their best and was trotted out way too early in the set.
“Slight Return” – or “the one Heart FM plays” Morriss quipped – had everyone singing along but sounded as much of a Stone Roses rip off as it did back in 94.
Much of the rest of the set was forgettable, and it’s little coincidence that the most entertaining moments came with a trio of unlikely cover versions.
First up was an impromptu version of Ice Cube’s “When will they shoot?”, with Morriss’ deadpan delivery hopefully prompting the inevitable solo album.
They were joined on stage by support band Pugwash for ELO’s “Don’t bring me down” but best of all was the second encore rendition of “Give it up” by KC and the Sunshine Band.
The group hasn’t evolved in nearly two decades though, and when your best moments are tongue in cheek versions of other people’s songs it probably is time to call it a day.
So, that was The Bluetones. Their tombstone will read – “1994 to 2011. They were ok”.