July 8, 2017
The Undertones are legendary.
If you are remotely interested in punk rock yet not familiar with their oeuvre due to the curse of late birth, chances are you found yourself at some stage of your musical journey singing along to your favourite bands from the nineties or noughties covering one of the many two-and-a-half-minute pop punk hits of these first wave Irish punks, whose debut 7” Teenage Kicks was influential English DJ John Peel’s favourite single of ALL time.
Formed whilst teenagers in Derry, Ireland in 1975 and taking shape mid-1976 following a diet of the Ramones, Nuggets-style garage bands and the emerging UK punk scene, The Undertones – much like the Buzzcocks – churned out two minute punk / pop classics about girls, petty jealousies, spotty neuroses and chocolate over four brilliant albums before first disbanding in 1983.
2017 saw their first incarnation on terra australis fronted by Paul McLoone, who joined in 1999 replacing estranged former frontman Feargal Sharkey, backed by original members – guitarist and chief-songwriter John O’Neil, his brother Damian (guitar), bassist Michael Bradley and drummer Billy Doherty.
Got doubts about The Undertones being another reunited band cashing in the on their former glories?
Nothing could be further from the truth as The Undertones sound fantastic and better than ever – they are a dignified, well oiled machine that churns out pristine sounds and a passionate set that crackled with energy, amplified by McLoone’s swagger who has literally shimmied and shuffled his way in and has successfully infused the limelight position with his own style while retaining the DNA of the mothership, which sits comfortably on a foundation that drips with dense melodies weaved by the guitar section.
What is joyous about the Undertones in 2017 is the sheer effortlessness of the delivery by an unassuming band, that does not need to rely on big fanfare. They elicits smiles and good times with a powerful set celebrating their eternal classics with aplomb.
Punk in its essence, i.e. not wasting a single note and making every moment count, The Undertones race down the lane they have created for their own distinctive style, adding ingredients like melancholy, social commentary and melodic brilliance.
Tonight’s show was testament to the band’s timeless legacy that transcends generations despite being rooted in the ordinary teenage life of the seventies.
Peppered with affectionate banter they showed that the potency of their songs has been improved rather than diminished by their familiarity.
Photos by KAVV
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