Nineties Retro Revival

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This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 23rd August 2011.

I had the pleasure of catching up with three of my favourite early nineties bands this past weekend. Almost twenty years had passed since their commercial heyday but a packed Enmore Theatre is clear evidence that there is a demand out there for revived and revamped retro acts.

First up were Australian alternative darlings The Clouds. Formed in Sydney in 1990, they were renown for the trademark female harmonies of lead singers Jodi Phillis and Trish Young. I’m pleased to report that both were in fine voice and the band sounded as tight as the last time I saw them at one of the very first Big Day Out festivals, way back when it didn’t sell out in one day and I was young enough to not be annoyed by so many young people there.

In a short and sharp forty minute set, The Clouds had the mostly thirty-something crowd moving with all of their hits, including Say It, Soul Eater, Bower of Bliss and my favourite, Hieronymus. I loved the latter so much that I named my dog after it. Hieronymus Young still lives in Sydney with my parents.

Next up were UK alternative rock icons, The Wonder Stuff. Best known in Australia for their 1991 hit collaboration with Vic Reeves on lead vocals, Dizzy, the band released a string of popular albums between 1986 and 1994 including The Eight Legged Groove Machine, Hup and Never Loved Elvis. With charismatic red wine swilling front man Miles Hunt and original guitarist Mal Treece onboard, the rest of the band’s personnel have changed since they last toured Australia in 1991.

An hour long set breezed by as The Wonder Stuff pumped out favourite after favourite, including Unbearable, Circlesquare and The Size of a Cow at a million miles an hour. My mildly arthritic knees are still sore from all of the jumping up and down that seems to be the dance move of choice in a general admission crowd situation. Why can’t we all just sway?

Headlining the show were Jesus Jones, a London based group who formed in 1988. Their biggest hit, Right Here, Right Now, has set the band up financially after its use in multitudes of advertising campaigns worldwide. Remarkably, the band’s lineup has not changed over the years, and they have never stopped touring.

In their distinct, rock fused with techno style, Jesus Jones delivered all of the hits and more, including Real, Real, Real and International Bright Young Thing. They last toured Australia in 1990, and I’m certain that except for an upgrade for their musical programming from floppy disc to hard drive, they sound exactly the same.

After a well deserved encore from the headliners, the show was over and the appreciative crowd poured out into the streets of Newtown bound for a nice cup of tea before bed. Well, we’re all quite a bit older now.

For a few short hours this weekend, the early nineties were back. I was studying for my HSC. Mickey Robbins and Helen Razer were hosting the Triple J breakfast show which I tuned into religiously in my mum’s station wagon as I drove to high school on my P plates. Kurt Cobain was still alive and life was good.

It doesn’t take much to work out that Generation X is all cashed up and looking for a retro good time. With Roxette, Bachelor Girl and 1927 reforming for reunion gigs soon and the upcoming Rewind festival, the interest in all things nineties is huge so expect to see other long dead acts be resuscitated for your enjoyment.

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Published in: on August 23, 2011 at 07:27  Leave a Comment  
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