The Joiners - December 2005
Why have The Undertones chosen to play a one-off, exclusive UK gig at the Joiners? Are they as good as they were in their heyday? Neither of these are questions I will be answering in this review. I was barely out of nappies when they were in their early prime and, to be honest, I don’t know why they decided to play the Joiners. I’m not sure the answers to either of those questions really matters anyway. The fact is they’re at the Joiners and I’m there to see if they’re any good. Along with, it seems, the rest of Southampton. The Joiners is heaving - absolutely stuffed with people. There are people in the toilet corridor craning their necks to get a look. The atmosphere is immense – the vast majority of the crowd are diehard Undertones fans. If you haven’t worked that out before they start playing you would certainly realise it when they do – the first beats of the first song set the whole place bouncing. Even if you don’t want to be, you’re bouncing too. The atmosphere has the same effect, in a way – surrounded by people who are singing and dancing along with every song as if it’s the first music they’ve heard after three years on a desert island without their ipod, how can you not get caught up in it? And I have to confess I was, but I would like to think that I am of subjective enough mind that the quality of the music had something to do with the fact that I thought they were, actually, very good. Their new and old songs sit alongside each other without really hinting at which is which and they play with intense energy, self-belief and skill. The singer prowls the stage, touching hands with the crowd as they reach up to touch some flesh. Over the top for a small venue like the Joiners? Possibly, but I’ll forgive them that because their fast, punky rock and roll stands up as well in the current musical climate as it did when it was first released. Possibly more so.