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The Undertones

De La Warr Pavilion - 17th May, 2019

Written By Andy Gunton

  • Photograph by John Bownas

  • Photograph by John Bownas

  • Photograph by John Bownas

Family Entertainment.

The last time I was lucky enough to see The Undertones was way back in 1980 at the Top Rank in Brighton, when they were on the top of their game.

39 years, one band break up, one band reformation, plus one new singer later, I was very eager to catch up with the boys from Derry once again. It had been far too long.

Always one of my favourite bands to have come out of the Punk and New Wave era, The Undertones always seemed to have that fun element which was lacking in many other acts of that time. Something that helped set them apart for me.

Naturally, entering the De La Warr Pavilion on Friday evening there was a mixture of high expectation and excitement, but this was mixed with questions in my mind as to whether the band would still be able to produce what they had, back in the day, especially with a different singer.

The distinctive vocal style of Feargal Sharkey is not an easy one to replicate.

But I needn't have worried, if anything The Undertones exceeded my expectations of the gig, and produced an evening to remember.

Apart from a small hiccup during the second song 'Gotta Getta', when drummer Billy Doherty stopped the song part way through due to an issue with his drum kit, this was a performance full of high energy, and enthusiasm from both the band and audience.

Vocalist Paul McLoone, who has been with the band since they reformed back in 1999, is a perfect replacement for Feargal Sharkey, so much so that I don't think anybody present missed him.

McLoone is a commanding presence on stage, combining the flamboyant elements of performers such as Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger and Morrissey.

The rest of the band, some of whom don't look a day older than when I saw them last in 1980, were equally impressive.

The 75 minute, 25 song, main set was a relentless, almost non stop, trawl through the bands history, with hardly a pause to draw breath.

For a band whose members are now of a certain age, this was most impressive.

Although quite naturally concentrating on playing songs from the bands debut album, there was still room for a sprinkling of new songs, which fitted perfectly and didn't seem out of place at all.

All the classics were there from an early outing for 'Teenage Kicks', through 'Jimmy Jimmy', 'Here Comes The Summer', 'It's Going To Happen', complete with horns courtesy of support act the Neville Staple Band, and onto a personal favourite of mine 'You've Got My Number...'.

Throughout the gig the crowd were in the palm of The Undertones hand, with many reliving the days of their youth by moshing and pogoing with abandon.

The main set ended with a rousing rendition of 'Get Over You', but an encore was an inevitability.

During that we were treated to six more songs including a sing-a-long version of 'My Perfect Cousin' and another blast of 'Teenage Kicks', which brought a very entertaining gig to a rousing climax.

This was a gig which helped many of us relive those heady days of our youth, it was almost like going back in time.

I think it's safe to say that we most certainly got our teenage kicks all through this night.

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