Uttoxeter’s Blame seem to have a clear mission. The five piece, who have supported Everclear throughout this fairly lengthy UK tour, appear desperate to revive the Britrock scene of the mid-to late 90s.
At RTM we have never had too much of a problem with bands that want to take inspiration from Honeycrack, The Jelly’s et al and so it is here. “After Hours” rolls along with all the hooks of a Willy Dowling song, while their cover of The Replacements “Bastards Of Young” is interesting by virtue of the fact that they have taken, what Jesse Malin sung as a slow, piano based ballad and turned it into a punky tune with echoes of Bad Religion (this is perhaps closer to the original, but it was a fine rendition either way). Blame is the sound of a band being given a big chance and doing their best to take it.
Sometimes, you just feel old. On the way to watch LA’s Everclear, for the very first time, it strikes us that the “Heartspark Dollarsign” single – RTM’s very first connection to the band and which is played tonight – is almost 18 years old. Time flies and all that.
There is, however, a serious point in all this nostalgic naval gazing. First the band (now beefed up, like the support, to a five piece, with main man Art Alexakis the only surviving original member) have not been frequent visitors to these shores, and second their music is rather rooted in that late 90s angst period (post grunge, the magazines called it) and there is a question or two as to how well it will translate in the 21st century.
It takes until about two seconds after the Beach Boys-esque intro to “So Much For The Afterglow” finishes with the “This is a song about Susan” lyric to put a smile on collective faces. Everclear, are back, back, back - and for the next 75 minutes they are tremendous fun.
“Father of Mine” and “Heroin Girl” follow. Three songs in and we haven’t moved away from the bands classic second and third full length records – and largely that is the way it stays.
There is a dip back to the very first album for debut single “Fire Maple Song” and a couple of songs from “Learning How To Smile Volume 1” in “AM Radio” and the crowd pleasing “Wonderful” but barely anything from the later period of their career. “Volvo Driving Soccer Mom” (which still sounds a bit like “Stacey’s Mom” by the Fountains of Wayne to these ears) is the only song played at all from that album, while 2012’s “Invisible Stars” – which is a real return to form in fairness – is represented just once, by “Be Careful What You Wish For”.
After the “Santa Monica“ with its “we can swim past the breakers and watch the world die” refrain, closes the main set, they are back for a lengthy encore which contains a superb “Summerland” and “You Make Me Feel Like A Whore” before a curiously uplifting evening ends with “I Will Buy You A New Life.”
This is the first time despite the alluded to lengthy fandom that RTM has seen Everclear. As such we have no quibbles with the greatest hits nature of the set tonight. However, Art has got himself a decent, fresh young band around him, and as “….Stars” has proved he still has the knack for writing, thought-provoking rock n roll with catchy choruses. As such, is this nostalgia act quite enough, or do the band need to play more new stuff in future to remain viable?
That is a question for the future. For tonight, wallowing in the past hasn’t sounded quite so good in years.