The Real People/Ravens in Paris/Smokestax/the Last of the Troubadours – The Watershed, Wimbledon

By Mark Youll | 5th October, 2011 | gig reviews |

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Away from the rare September sun sizzling outside, it’s soundcheck time within this cool student shack in the heart of Wimbledon , and it’s difficult deciding which is more inspiring: the stocky scousers crammed onto the venue’s tiny stage, effortlessly thumbing their way through a couple of their many masterful songs, or the scattered legion of teenage musos that will make up tonight’s run of support bands standing below , eagerly awaiting their own tune ups, yet momentarily awed by these elder headliners and the joyful noise the ‘Realies’ roll out.

Judging by the scores of pruned mods and senior indie-boppers that turn out to see them, it’s safe to say The Real People’s royal reputation as early squeezers of what became the Britpop sound more than precedes this rare London visit. Some fans, armed with cherished stuff to be signed or cameras at the ready, can be seen circling or snapping chief Realies Chris and Tony Griffiths in the venue’s adjacent disco room, before the first of the evening’s selected supports draws them back in.

“....opener People In The Telly is the first of many Realie rockers that reveal where Liam got his lip and how Noel’s noise got hip.”

And loyal to the flavour of this grand event, and making their debut here, the stripped back acoustics of ones to watch the Last of the Troubadours – a/k/a singer songwriter Joel Rogers, and face and former Connett spokesman Darron Connett – ease in proceedings with their rich medley of catchy, sixties-soaked winners that bridge Beatle harmonies to the soulful snap of Marvin. Tailing the Troubadours are young pretenders Smokestax , who sustain such nostalgia with another energetic crack at wowing the mod squad amongst this now lively crowd , before prickly poseurs Ravens In Paris square up to such sentiment with a growling , bass- heavy set that aims (if nothing else) to penetrate through the walls towards the late arrivals still cueing to get in outside.

After a speedy stage change around, main draw The Real People board for business. The mere sight of the brother Griffiths on stage sparks a rowdy reception, only dulled by the familiar swagger of opener People In The Telly, the first of many Realie rockers that reveal where Liam got his lip and how Noel’s noise got hip. The punkier Twenty Seconds and Smash It Up (complete with fake brass stabs and ‘80s synth lines) hears the band briefly ditch their indie credentials, before reconvening for a jangly swing at The Feeling, or the trudging march of ballad When It Rains, which for all its vocal traits of a sixties Marsden, is not a million miles from something Snow Patrol would offer up to underscore a teary audition story on the X-factor.

With the exception of some stray scouse drollery between songs, it becomes apparent that that the Realies show doesn’t pause for breath, as this gapless gig zips through its first hour and towards some of the sharpest pop in the Griffiths’cannon, as the Lennon-like Give Me The Reason, Past Life and the noticeably ‘Supersonic-ed’ Rolling Stone bear out.

The band’s tireless trek though their supposed second half confidently feeds from their latest Think Positive LP, as brutish guitars and clanking piano stride forward for the likes of Never Give Up and the skiffle-rocked Transmission, fuelling footie match-scale sing-a-longs that prolong past the hazy strains of She, before culminating amongst the swaying bodies of those so well-oiled, their version of finale Rayners Lane lasts way past their kicking out time. Glorious.

Mark Youll

  • Martin Lappin

    Thanks man