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DEAF SCHOOL/EUGENE McGUINESS @ 02 ACADEMY, LIVERPOOL 20/12/09 BY MEL

It's Deaf School's Christmas bash tonight, we almost didn't make it, with train delays and being snowed under. However we got there in the nick of time for the support act Eugene McGuiness, a group of young lads playing melodic sounds. I was all too eager for the main act to entertain us so didn't really get into this band too much.

Deaf School are a band who featured way back in our teenage diaries, having first saw them in '77 at Eric's as part of the Liverpool's punk explosion. They didn't quite fit the 'punk' tag, (they came along much earlier) but they were pretty avant-garde. They were glam, camp and art students, one of the first band I recall who had character nicknames, featuring wit and a sense of theatre about them. Tinged with cabaret, influences ranging from Roxy Music, Manhattan Transfer, Sparks and Cole Porter. Bette Bright (Ann Martin) went on to sing with Bette Bright & The Illuminations which featured Glenn Matlock & Rusty Egan. In 1982 she married Suggs from Madness and in the main shied away from showbiz. Whilst the other members joined various bands, Clive Langer produced many known bands. Bette was our absolute style icon & heroine and Enrico a dreamboat Clark Gable personified. For those of you who don't know them, here's a brief intro.They won the Melody Maker Rock Contest, resulting in being signed to Warner, made three LPs between 1976 and 1978, '2nd Honeymoon', 'Don't Stop The World', & their new waves contribution 'English Girls/Working Boys' they were one of the most popular live acts in their decade, they were way ahead of their time, paving the way for many Liverpool bands. They recorded three sessions with John Peel for the BBC. As as a little intro treat folks, here's a 1977 video I found. They are legendary!!

Video: Appearing on Supersonic 1977 - 'Taxi' & 'What A Way To End It All'.

We were diving into nostalgic heaven, quite far removed from our gig the other night with Heaven's Basement & Dear Superstar rocking out. Tonight it was about glamour, class, style and pure showmanship. Although they are certainly a lot older, (aren't we all) Deaf School are still pretty big in their home town of Liverpool, it's not all that often they play shows, so it's a kind of big treat tonight.

They came on a bit later than we anticipated, a hesitant start, Enrico Cadillac Jnr (Steve Allen) and Bette Bright coming on half way through a number, some kind of delay/hold up? The audience roared, when they both emerged, Enrico still has his moustachioed Clark Gable image complete with tuxedo and Bette Bright still looks astonishing, sporting a blonde short crop, with a 50's swinging dogtooth jacket, leather suit, and high shiny boots. Steve' Mr Average' Lindsay on bass braved the heat of the hall with a thick woolly jumper, Ian Ritchie on sax, looking dapper in his pinstriped suit, and playing amazingly, joining the band on drums we had if Enrico is to be believed (he's always joking) "from Elbow Guy Garvey", 'Cliff Langer' aka Clive (former Original Mirrors) in shiny grey suit, playing lead guitar, The Rev Max Ripple appropriately attired on keyboards, a bit disappointing not to see Eric Shark on stage tonight (he's in poor health) and finally a little later we had The Sparkle Sisters Quartet’s string section in the corner.

 

Let the show commence...

Luckily I had a photopass so of course was front stage for the first couple of numbers, entirely entranced. It was all too soon over and I'd only taken a few, so  squeezed and pushed myself onto the first row. Only to find my memory card full, & battery flat so luckily I had my trust compact to continue shooting.

Deaf School are a band with sensational lyrics, which you soon find yourself singing along to, you never forget them after all these years, and it's been quite a few. The music has a timeless quality, somehow they just just slip into 2009 as fresh as they were in 1977. The music started up for 'Taxi' and Bette Bright threw white embossed handkerchiefs into the front row, leaving grown men snatching them wildly. Bette performed some of her solo numbers, a thunderous 'Thunder & Lightning', and a sentimental, emotional 'Final Act'. Many people liked what they saw, the venue was packed to the rafters, with most participating in the singing along.

Lots of Liverpudlian humour abound from Enrico "I know what this is, it's coming to me", during the first bars of '2nd Honeymoon', which led onto a rousing chorus, la, la, la, everyone waving their hankies enthusiastically. All the guys in the band looked as though they were really enjoying themselves.

They did a couple of encores, wildly applauded by the crowd, mainly older people like ourselves, but some younger people mingled amongst them. The first encore we had a old 'Flamin Groovies track 'Shake Some Action' certainly giving the ole feet a cause to move. Follow by Enrico & Bette duetting on a 1944 Christmas song  'Baby it's Cold Outside' with Bette dressed in a big white fur hat, black sequinned dress with piano keys, and a snow machine churning out into the crowd, it created quite a spectacle.

I love it when the whole band finish there act with a full group hug to the audience and Deaf School didn't disappoint us.

 

'Final Act' became the last act for us as it was a mad dash for the last train home. Unfortunately we missed 'Capaldi's Café' which was the last song performed and one of my favourite tracks. This has to be one of the best gigs of the year and what a better way to end it all (no pun intended) well here's the video!

Video: 'What A Way To End It All' by Colsnr

Setlist: Last Night, Get Set Ready Go, Hi Jo Hi, Where's The Weekend, Nearly Moonlight Night Motel, Cocktails At 8, Knock, Knock, Knocking,  Darling, Taxi, Goodbye To All That, Thunder & Lightning, I Wanna Be Your Boy, Morning After, Ronny Zamora, 2nd Honeymoon, What A Way To End It All.

Encore: Room Service, Shake Some Action, Baby It's Cold Outside.

Encore2: Final Act, Capaldi's Cafe.

http://deafschoolmusic.com

If you know what's good for you go and buy their Anthology album, cheap at the price £4.99 here:

Review/photos/videos by Mel
Many thanks to Ken Testi
More photos here
- www.flickr.com/photos/vivamel/sets/72157622921645211