Shepherds Bush Empire
I have been following TMTCH off and on since I first heard The Colours played by Mike Reid on Radio 1 in the late 80s. Last night, I took my 14 year old son along for company to the 31st anniversary show. Support band, Merry Hell were quite good but everyone was eager for the main attraction. It became clear during the headliner’s set that some of the audience had travelled quite a distance to see The Men and I was pleased to see that The Empire was pretty full. Coming on stage to Gold Rush, then launching into Gold Strike, the set list drew heavily from the first three albums.
Old favourites, The Ghosts of Cable Street,The Crest, Bounty Hunter, Shirt of Blue and Smugglers were interspersed with a couple from latest album The Defiant as well as covers of Steve Earl’s Guitar Town and Graham Parker’s Hotel Chambermaid. With a large back catalogue, it was inevitable that some of my choices would be omitted but the middle albums were ignored completely, despite them all having two or three tracks of merit. Personally, I would have liked to hear a couple each from Silvertown, The Domino Club and Never Born to Follow. Finishing up with Ironmasters and The Crest, they returned to the stage with only enough time to race through Walkin Talkin and the venue curfew left us without The Green Fields of France (boo!). Always a good night out but I felt as though the band have lost their edge of late. Only during the last 3 or 4 numbers did they seem to have the old fire in their bellies.
Mainly 40 plus, wearing old tour T shirts like campaign medals including quite a few New Model Army and Levellers shirts. A surprising number of ladies too. All fans of The Men, the band would have had to have played a stinker in order to leave the crowd disappointed.
It made me think..
If you’re going to give the majority of vocals to the softer of the two vocalists then make sure his mic has enough level. Cush could be clearly heard but Swill’s vocals, along with Bobby Valentino’s fiddle were often lost in a muddy mix.