Concert Reviews

Sad Café Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 10, 2014    
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Sad Café - O2 Academy, London (UK) - 21st November 2012

A sporting adage says "if you're good enough you're old enough" and on the evidence of this evening, the musical equivalent is "if you're good enough you're young enough" because despite the majority of those on stage sporting the well worn look, the quality of the show was superb.

Initially distracted by Steve Whalley's (vocals & guitar) resemblance to Compo (Bill Owen) from Last Of The Summer Wine and some dodgy headgear, I soon had such thoughts banished from my mind as one wonderful song after another was presented for the appreciative, yet disappointingly sparse, audience. Self deprecation was the order of the day as the band got the ageist jokes in before they'd even started playing with Whalley's back trouble giving rise to considerable mirth.

The legacy of Sad Café (SC) was evident throughout as every song hit home with melody, hooks and great choruses and in Ashley Mulford they have a guitarist who knows how to play and who still looks like a Rock star; his soloing was wonderful. Rather than attempt to directly replace the late, great Paul Young's vocals they have drafted in Whalley, Sue Quin and Simon Waggot (the latter both providing vocals & keyboards) giving the band six good voices to work with. Needless to say the harmonies and vocal arrangements were spectacular. Lead vocals were shared between four of those six with Ian Wilson, Whalley and Mulford taking on the majority with Quin coming to the fore on the higher register sections of certain songs and all of the brilliant 'Fanx Ta-Ra'. Des Tong (bass & vocals) and Dave Irving (drums) rounded out the band and provided an extremely accomplished rhythm section.

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Highlights? Frankly, I enjoyed every song so I could simply list the entire set; however amongst all of this there were certain standout tracks. 'Love's Enough' was the second song up and the multiple vocal arrangement was spot on, as they were on a sensational 'Misunderstanding' a few songs later. Wilson introduced 'Hungry Eyes' as the best song Young had written and their rendition showed all its inherent quality. 'Black Rose' was splendid and I've had the chorus of 'What Am I Gonna Do 'Bout You' running round my head ever since. 'I Believe (Love Will Survive)' was spine-tingling and Quin did a fine job leading 'Fanx Ta-Ra'; one of my favourite SC tracks and the set inevitably wrapped up with their mega hit, 'Everyday Hurts' on which the six vocalists did a terrific job.

Needless to say they returned quickly for an encore, producing chuckles from the crowd when pointing out the contrived nature of encores. A rousing rendition of 'My Oh My' was followed by perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening, 'Rat Race'. There may have been more but transport considerations meant I had to depart, albeit I suspect wearing the same silly grin that had been on my face from the moment the band hit the stage.

Gary Marshall


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