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Saturday, 21 January 2017
THE BLUE AEROPLANES - HARE & HOUNDS, BIRMINGHAM 19/01/2017.
Had Bristol’s The Blue Aeroplanes been formed within spitting distance of the Golden Gate Bridge rather than the Severn Bridge then there would be no doubt with their unique mix of beat poetry and Rock, Punk and Folk influences they would be a band seriously name dropped by the cool kids and talked about in the hushed reverence usually reserved for the likes of the Velvet Underground. Originally conceived in the mid-eighties hot bed of Post Punk invention, their early gigs were a meeting of an art happening and Rock and Roll celebration with a reputation being cemented by their ferocious live shows towards the end of the decade. The Blue Aeroplanes hit their critical and commercial peak at the start of the 90s with a pair of peerless records in Swagger and Beatsongs before falling foul of fashion and crashing and burning during the “back to basics” Britpop era and not fitting in with the glut of “landfill” Indie bands that now clutter up the racks in charity shops that followed in it’s wake. After 20 years of flying below the radar and not troubling anyone much outside their home city, The Blue Aeroplanes are back with a new album, Wecome Stranger!, which….err…….landed at the start of this month that has been a hit with the critics and they have also hit the the road for their first UK tour since, well ages.
The current line up of the band that has seen practically every guitar player from Bristol pass through it’s ranks over the last 30 years is original members Gerard Langley (poet/singer), John Langley (drummer) and dancer Wojtek Dmochowski with long time members guitarist Gerard Starkie and bassist Chris Sharp joined by new blood in guitarists Mike Youe and the elfin Bec Jevons. Crammed on the small stage at a nicely full Hare & Hounds, the band and dancer ricochet behind and around Gerard Langley in a live performance every bit as thrilling as in their early 90s heyday. Mixing up new tracks with old favourites, you can’t hear the join…………the new songs are all in the mould of the “classic” three guitar Aeroplane attack while the old tunes have aged remarkably well and still sound great. Standouts have to be, from the the new album, the quirky ‘Elvis Festival’ and the brilliant ‘Here Is The Heart Of All Wild Things’ which closes the set in a hail of feedback and you really can’t go wrong playing ‘Jacket Hangs’ and ‘…… And Stones’ from Swagger back to back. Although it is unlikely that The Blue Aeroplanes will ever hit the commercial heights of the early 90s again, Welcome Stranger! Is their strongest album since those times ( "It feels as if The Blue Aeroplanes have never been away...Still fresh and potent, with punchy production, twisting song structures and sweeping choruses" Mojo) and with the best line-up for a long time, they are still a glorious and exciting live band. It’s good to have them back.