Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The Only Ones - Shepherds Bush Empire 09/06/2007

Comparatively recent anniversary here ... and along with the Hanoi Rocks 2002 tour and the New York Dolls appearances at Meltdown in 2004, this was one of those bands I thought I'd never see. And with the full classic line-up to boot! I saw 'The One' back in 1994 and figured that was going to be as good as it got - after all, they'd played a hefty number of Only Ones tunes, and you had to wonder whether Perrett was ever going to make it back onto a stage after that brief mid-90s re-emergence. And lo and behold it happened.
One of the most immediate thing to jump out seemed almost impossible; while the rest of the band were showing the scars of time (Perrett could almost hide behind his microphone stand, such was the slightness of his frame) Mike Kellie, a drummer who back in 60s played in Spooky Tooth and was one of the more unlikely new wave musicians, looked as though he had frozen in time circa 1979.

The Only Ones always stood apart from their contemporaries; as Perrett notes in the Faster Than Lightning collection (recently issued on DVD via the band’s website), they were the band that aspiring musicians looked to and directly influenced the subsequent forming of bands. The House Of Love are a prime, almost plagiaristic example. Their musical superiority over, say, Eddie & The Hot Rods led to 2-and-a-bit great albums (their swansong, Baby’s Got A Gun, contains without question the band’s lowpoint in Fools but also at least one of their finest in Big Sleep). Their performance of the latter was one of those stand out moments, where the hairs on your neck stand up; Perrett’s higher pitched and more fragile voice providing the epic song with even greater resonance.

And of course there was ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ … a few days before this show I heard Andy McCluskey from OMD on the radio, dismissing the return of the Only Ones and suggesting it had only happened due to the use of their most famous song in a recent Vodafone ad. This is the same Andy McCluskey that gave the world Atomic Kitten – surely enough of a reason to keep your opinions to yourself.

Much to our amusement the first encore was ‘Me And My Shadow’, complete with an unnecessarily extended intro. We were so thrown by this that the only thing to do was to pile down the front, which at least put us in the right place for ‘Lovers Of Today’.

For a while afterwards there was talk of new material, and recordings did surface both online and during a performance on Later With Jools Holland. There was a national tour but some dates were cancelled. Their website hasn't been updated for a while and the best source of info, John Perry's MySpace page has been silent for some time too. On balance I'm quite happy for things to be left as they are.

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