The Ruby Lounge, Manchester
The Blue Aeroplanes are one of those bands I’ve always been aware of but never really investigated properly but they’ve hovered in my peripheral vision all these years since I first started paying attention to all things Indie and John Peel in the mid 80s. I had a couple of records and remember enjoying their TV appearances with the combination of spoken word vocals, Wojtek’s excellent dance moves and the multiple guitar frenzy. I got talking to a diehard fan a couple of years ago who convinced me I should definitely see them next time they came to town.
The threat of ‘Snowmageddon’ hasn’t prevented a very decent turnout and from the first bar of the (current) 7-piece line up I know this is going to be good. The imposing, perma-sunglasses wearing figure of Gerard Langley (supposedly the subject of REM’s ‘Losing My Religion’) warns that this won’t be a nostalgia trip and sure enough the set is largely drawn from their new LP ‘Welcome Stranger!’ – fortunately it’s a truly excellent record and the new tunes are just as warmly received as old classics like ‘Yr Own World’ which is dispatched early doors.
What’s really notable is the amount of movement on stage – led by the mighty dancer Wojtek who still hurtles around the stage throwing shapes and touching his toes and basically moving in ways a lot of us in the audience really shouldn’t lest we dislodge something – the band join in too regularly swooping in and out of each other and making best use of the relatively small space and somehow managing not to collide with each other in a tangle of guitar leads- it makes for a real spectacle and compliments the driving, kinetic music – take note, younger bands!
‘Jacket Hangs’ and a spellbinding ‘…And Stones’ end the main part of the set before two encores of ‘Fun’, Dylan’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ and as is tradition they end with a truly glorious take on Tom Verlaine’s ‘Breakin’ in My Heart’ sends us all dancing out into the snowy night. Superb.
Of a certain age inevitably – although not exclusively male – and like all great Manchester gigs Fat Alex was in the house.
It made me think..
The Blue Aeroplanes are basically a Bristolian version of The Fall (The Langley Brothers, Wojtek and yr Granny on Bongos) with a similar revolving door policy on band membership but beat them hands down in terms of entertainment value.
I arrived a casual fan, I leave a firm and dedicated Blue Aeroplanes devotee. I can’t wait to see them again.