Friday 24 March 2023

Inspiral Carpets / Déjà Vega - Northampton Roadmender - 23rd March 2023

Inspiral Carpets made their return to the live stage after seven and a half years to promote their recent The Complete Singles collection. More importantly it was their first gig since losing drummer Craig Gill and they paid a fitting tribute to their friend.

Déjà Vega open up the night with a well-received half hour set, almost half of which is dedicated to their multi-headed beast The Test that takes on new forms each time they play it. Half an hour isn’t long enough any more to appreciate them now they have two albums at their disposal. 

It’s All Gone Wrong, Mr Powder and Who We Are do however provide a broad introduction to them, their blitzkrieg approach to much of their music has a powerful intensity to it that few can match even when they’re in the support slot role. Our stock metric in such situations is the merch desk at the end and Déjà Vega clearly won a load of new admirers tonight.

There’s a real sense of buzz and anticipation in the room as the clock moves past nine and the lights dim and the band enter the stage to the strains of World Of Twist’s The Storm. They rush headlong into Joe, the first Inspiral Carpets song performed for seven and a half years and memories come rushing back.

The next eighty minutes fly past in a blur as classic song follows classic song. All the early and biggest hit singles are present and correct. The garage rock energy still sits at the core of Keep The Circle Around, Butterfly, Find Out Why, Directing Traffic and the cover of ? And The Mysterians 96 Tears. Bassist Oscar and drummer Kev might be stepping into huge irreplaceable shoes but neither are overawed and the friendship and family links mean they understand the Inspirals ethos and as accomplished musicians the rest takes care of itself.

Peak period Inspirals is well represented with the breakthrough hits This Is How It Feels, a song most bands would have firmly attached to the bottom of the set, and She Comes In The Fall dispatched early. Life’s Sackville and b-side Commercial Rain also feature despite not being on The Complete Singles collection that accompanies this tour. The later albums have their key singles played - Caravan (The Beast Inside), Dragging Me Down, Generations, Two Worlds Collide (Revenge Of The Goldfish), I Want You, Uniform and Saturn 5 (Devil Hopping). The main setlist surprise was that there was one post-reformation track in the John Cooper Clarke sampling Let You Down. Looking round at the faces singing along to every word most people are just delighted that they’re back on stage.

There’s a few minor gremlins as you’d expect on a first night after seven and a half years but nothing too serious, and when Stephen stops Directing Traffic to be reminded of the opening line, they all laugh and the crowd roar their support. Otherwise you wouldn’t know this was a band that had two debutants and hadn’t even done a warm-up gig.

The tributes to departed drummer Craig Gill are subtle, as you’d think Craig himself would want. His name is on the drumskin along the cow logo and there’s a slide show of images of him during Commercial Rain that opens the encore. Clint tells us at the end that it’s been an emotional night for them. It feels that out in the crowd - we’d never expected to see them on stage again after Craig passed. But like most things in life, music is a balm and a bandage and a reason to celebrate the best memories. This tour is set to be a fitting reminder of that.

Inspiral Carpets played Joe, Generations, Weakness, Butterfly, She Comes In The Fall, This Is How It Feels, Two Worlds Collide, Let You Down, Caravan, Find Out Why, Move, Sackville, Directing Traffic, Keep The Circle Around, I Want You, Uniform, Dragging Me Down, Commercial Rain, 96 Tears and Saturn 5.

Inspiral Carpets official website is here. They are also on Twitter and Facebook.  

They play Newcastle Boiler Shop (March 24), Oxford O2 Academy (25), Brighton Concorde 2 (26), Cambridge Junction (31), Manchester Albert Hall (April 1), Nottingham Rescue Rooms (2), Leeds O2 Academy (8), Glasgow SWG3 (13), Sheffield Leadmill (14), London Shepherds Bush Empire (15), Coventry HMV Empire (21), Frome Cheese And Grain (22), Holmfirth Picturedrome (May 25), Hull Welly (26), Warrington Neighbourhood Festival (27), Buckley Tivoli (June 15), Cardiff Tramshed (16), Church End Sign Of The Times Festival (17), Dunfermline PJ Molloys (July 20), Edinburgh Liquid Rooms (21), Sunderland Kubix Festival (22), Perth Rosemount Hotel (28/29), Brisbane The Triffid (August 3), Sydney Manning Bar (4), Melbourne Croxton Ballroom (5), Wellington San Fran (8), Auckland Tuning Fork (9), Derby Hairy Dog (24), Norwich Epic Studios (25) and Portsmouth Victorious Festival (26). 

The Complete Singles is out on double vinyl and triple CD.

Déjà Vega are on Facebook and Twitter

Personal Hell is out now and available on their store. They play Manchester Gorilla (April 1). They also support Inspiral Carpets at Oxford O2 Academy (March 25) and Brighton Concorde 2 (26).


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