At 9.30pm exactly Miles Hunt appears on stage with his band The Wonder Stuff, white shirted with long flowing locks and proceeds to deliver a greatest hits showcase of music spanning three decades. Its been 6 years since they played a show in Belfast and a packed Limelight were ready for a sing-a-long tonight.
Opening with “30 Years in the Bathroom” from their highly acclaimed second and most successful album Hup they started as they meant to go on by delivering loud thumping pop songs that originally caught the vibe of a nation mostly during the eighties and nineties when they were at the height of their popularity.
The band line up has changed considerably from the early days mainly due to the departure of original member Rob Jones and the sad passing of Matt Gilkes but the current line up including Belfast’s Dan Donnelly on guitar and Erica Nockalls on violin delivered a fitting tribute to these founding members of the band.
“On the Ropes” from the album Construction for the Modern Idiot gave us the first big sing along of the evening, the first of many. This is followed up by “Red Berry Joy Town” and a song extolling the virtues of the band’s hometown of Birmingham “Caught In My Shadow“. Miles Hunt has lost his West Midlands accent a little over the years but by all accounts Birmingham will always remain close to his heart.
Miles Hunt recognises the fact it’s been 30 years on the road for the band and launches into “For The Broken Hearted“, introducing it as a new song which Hunt admits is the phrase every gig goer hates to hear. It had all the trademarks of a Wonderstuff tune and maybe in time it would become a grower but tonight it was safe to say it was just politely received by this aged 40 plus Belfast crowd.
“Mission Drive” is next in the set with it’s slow build up and then it lets go and gives your eardrums a good workout.
It’s a country and western howdown up next with the heavy violin on “Golden Green” and the getting over and done with of “Size of a Cow“. Maybe Miles Hunt likes to play that one, maybe he doesn’t. We might never know his true feelings.
There’s a heavy heavy bass rhythm with “Donation” and Miles Hunt brings out the old school megaphone to deliver the latter piece of the song. In true old school style no one can make out a damn word he’s singing but to be honest by this stage no one cares.
For any Wonder Stuff fan the songs “A Wish Away” and “Radio Ass Kiss” showcase the band at their finest and wiped out any memory of “Size of A Cow!”
They finish their set with “Ten Trenches Deep” and Miles Hunt bids a fond farewell. At that point I decide to hang around for a few minutes to see if the band come back on again! They don’t let me down.
According to Miles Hunt The Wonderstuff’s encore is all about broken hearted songs. They kick off with the amazing “Can’t Shape Up” and following it up with “Cartoon Boyfriend”, “It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby” before finally ending the set with “Good Night Though” which screams the lyric “This stairway ain’t to heaven, this one’s to oblivion”. I’m all for the one to oblivion on the strength of tonight’s show.
One song missing from the set tonight was “Don’t Let Me Down, Gently” and whilst it may have been the bands most popular tune and it’s ommission would have disappointed many, for me it maybe just isn’t one of their best tunes.
Just don’t leave it so long the next time to come back to Belfast.