As part of Manchester’s Vinyl Revival’s Record Store Day celebrations, Tom Hingley, former front man of Inspiral Carpets and head of the eponymous Tom Hingley Band, played an intimate instore set amongst the racks of new and used vinyl in one of Manchester’s hidden treasures.
“Hi, I’m Tom and I’m an alcoholic” is an interesting way to open a set, but it’s typical of a man famed for his blunt talking. He asks the small crowd that have made their way round from the chaos ensuing at Piccadilly Records what they would like to hear. A cad whispers Spitfire (a track by post-Tom Inspirals) under his breath, but fortunately not within hearing distance of Tom, so he starts with This Is How It Feels. Whilst opinions may differ on the Inspirals current line up, one thing that is universally agreed on is the contribution Tom made to the band and by the end of the first line it’s clear this is as much his song as it is the band he left. Stripped back of the production sheen of the recorded version and the unmistakable organ sound, its dark lyrics feel even more sinister especially in this unusual setting.
Beggar’s Hand, which we featured as Track Of The Day earlier in the week, is the lead track on an EP that The Tom Hingley Band has released for Record Store Day with proceeds going to the Hope Fest charity in Liverpool and Manchester’s Lifeshare, two organisations doing valuable work with the homeless. He introduces Beggar’s Hand by railing against the social injustices that cause so much homelessness on the streets of Manchester and most towns in the country and the way in which the general public view those less fortunate than themselves.
What this and the b-side Toy which follows demonstrates amply is that away from the more obvious connections with his former band, that Tom has continued to write great material on a par with his past since they first disbanded in 1996. Acoustically both songs work as well as they do in the electric versions on the EP (Tom later alludes to the fact he has a split audience where some like his acoustic work and others the electric, hence he often records versions of songs in both environments).
He then plays the second Inspirals single he was involved with. Find Out Why is distilled from a two minute blur of organ psychedelia into a fierce acoustic strum that he twists into a verse and chorus of the 8.15 From Manchester theme tune for a BBC children’s TV programme of the same name that was based on the song. It’s followed by a couple of tracks from the band’s final studio album with Tom Devil Hopping. Saturn 5 is a fan favourite and stands up well to the transformation to the acoustic form, Tom’s voice soaring as the recorded version does at just the right moments whilst Bitches Brew shows that Tom’s voice may have changed since the halcyon days of the band, but it’s not lost any of its potency in that process, sounding richer and deeper.
The Tom Hingley Band are recording an album for release early next year and Tom reveals two songs from this which should have fans of his salivating at the prospect. Beautiful Girl is about his three year old daughter, about whom he tells stories about watching her grow up making pizza and walking into shops and saying “casual racism” with perfect diction. It’s a moving tribute that any parent could relate to, a song about the love for a little one that changes someone’s life, whilst Prodigal Son also shows that his creative fire hasn’t been diminished by the trials and tribulations of the very public fallout from the band split.
He then tells us he’s going to play an Inspirals song that he’s never played very well, another example of his endearing but brutal honesty and capacity for self-deprecation. He’s doing himself a disservice as well as I Want You is delivered with the passion and energy of a much younger man.
There’s a bit of a palaver about the time left on Tom’s car parked outside (as he’s doing a number of these shows in support of the EP and the charity), but once that’s resolved he finishes with Leaving It All Behind from his last album Sand. A dark cathartic song whose title tells its own story it’s a less obvious way of finishing this set than a more obvious Inspirals classic, but one that really hits home what we’ve previously stated – that he’s still a potent songwriter with something to say.
Tom then stays around, once the car has been moved to scupper the parking dictators of town, to sign copies of the EP as well as to chat to fans before heading off to play another show in Liverpool. It’s to his ultimate credit that he’s retained his unwavering social and political conscience to this day and is willing to use his notoriety as a platform to educate and help support others as well as entertaining them with a fine set of songs from across his career as a musician.
Tom Hingley played This Is How It Feels, Beggar’s Hand, Toy, Find Out Why, Saturn 5, Bitches Brew, Beautiful Girl, Prodigal Son, I Want You, Leaving It All Behind.
The Tom Hingley Band are on Facebook and Twitter. They play The Ruby Lounge in Manchester on Thursday 21st April alongside Tom's Inspiral Carpets tribute band The Kar-Pets.
Follow Even The Stars on Twitter at @eventhestarsuk and like our Facebook page for all the latest updates