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DEAF SCHOOL @ BAND ON THE WALL, MANCHESTER 04/02/11 – REVIEW BY PHIL

Some groups never received the recognition they deserve. A brittle product of the Liverpudlian art school scene, it’s been said that Deaf School mattered almost as much as the Beatles in Liverpool musical history. Formed in 1975, their first release, the elegant 2nd Honeymoon, showed a band that had managed to carve out its own universe and produce a piece of work virtually impossible not to love.  Seemingly the band had the world at its feet; however what Deaf School lacked was timing, because just as their career was about to take off, the tsunami known as punk rock swept all before it, including such great bands as Deaf School. 

Deaf school concerts have been rare and spasmodic over the past few years, but the first two months of 2011 saw the band reforming once more to play a seven date tour that takes them the length and breadth of the country. And, when these dates are completed, Deaf School take the long road to the Far East to play a couple of dates in Tokyo. But tonight they’ve landed in the far less exotic Manchester to breathe new life once more into their wonderful songs.     

 

Tonight’s affair at the Band on the Wall is scheduled to start at seven thirty, and when I say the concert starts at seven thirty I mean exactly that; Deaf School kicked into life at thirty minutes past seven precisely. I don’t know if this is a regular policy at the Band on the Wall, but if it is, they should review because the effect is that some unlucky people were turning up halfway through the bands performance.  Some poor souls arrived after they’d finished! However for those who turned up early the band pulled out all the stops to play one of the best gigs I’ve seen at the Band on the Wall.  

Starting their set with the jazzy ‘Last Night’, the band comprising the commanding figure of Enrico Cadillac on vocals, Max ‘The Reverend’ Ripple on keyboards, Steve ‘Average’ Lindsey on bass, Ian Ritchie on an assortment of brass instruments and the fantastic Clive Langer on guitar, nervously inch their way into the evening.  The evening shifts up a few gears when the seven piece Deaf School, now joined by a shimmering Bette Bright, cruse into ‘Get Set Ready Go’

The elaborate arrangements still amaze, they’re full of dramatic moments which beautifully compliment the quintessentially Englishness of Enrico Cadillac’s lyrics. Add to this some spectacular ensemble playing, especially Clive Langer’s exquisite guitar flurries, and the music starts to purr.   By the time the opening chords of ‘Where’sThe Weekend’ ring out, the crowd is dancing and singing along to every word.  Now in full flight, Deaf School continue to charge through the best of their back catalogue as well as a adding a smattering of new material from the recently released Enrico and Bette EP. The hopelessly romantic title track of ‘2nd Honeymoon’ lowers the curtains on the main set.

The band soon returns to play everybody’s favourite Deaf School song ‘What A Way To End It All’ and a rocking version of the Flaming Groovies ‘Shake Some Action’.The band return one last time and the night is brought to a conclusion by Bette Bright with a solo rendition of the hauntingly despondent ‘Final Act’.It's really is great to see Deaf School tread the boards again and hopefully they’ll get the recognition they deserve for their pioneering music. There’s still a life and soul in these boys and girl and, with such a cavalcade of great songs, the experience of witnessing a Deaf School show is a massively rewarding one.

Setlist

Last Night
Enrico Song
Get Set Ready Go
Where’s The Weekend
Nearly Moonlit Night Hotel
Hi Jo Hi
Cocktails At Eight
Darling
You Turn Away
Taxi
Goodbye To All That
Thunder & Lightening
Knock Knock Knocking
I Wanna Be Your Boy
2nd Honeymoon

1st Encore

Scary Girlfriend
What A Way To End It All
Shake Some Action

2nd Encore

Final Act

Review/photos by Phil King