The O2 in Newcastle played host to one of the original Madchester trend setters. The one and only Tom Hingley formally of Inspiral Carpets back in the heyday when the Hacienda was the centre of cool and Manchester was the only place to see and be seen. Kicking off his UK tour with a few friends along for the ride including Steve Hanley on bass (The Fall), Paul Hanley on drums (The Fall), Kelly Wood on keyboards, and Andrew Tarling on guitar. Not just content to play their hits ( and there are many to choose from) Tom decided to go in another direction and played, in its entirety, their classic album ‘The Beast Inside’ which reached number 5 in the UK charts in 1991.
It has to be said that there could have been a few more people attending the gig and it might have been nice if the support had been able to make it too. But all in all the O2 managed to create a wonderfully intimate area and at least you could get to the bar. So with drinks in hand we made our way to the front and waited for the main event to begin. The lights dimmed, and the rolling script from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar filled the room just as Cicero was explaining why it was a good thing he had helped butcher his emperor the light exploded into life and the band took to the stage.
Tim was on top form, engaging with the crowd like the pro he is, and men who had probably never danced for at least 10 years threw shapes on the dance floor last seen somewhere during the early part of the 1990’s (yes Steve that really does include you). And for just those few precious moments in time you were taken back to the heyday of British music, before Brit pop, before Oasis, back to when it was really ok to use keyboards, and the best sounds all had that distinctive Manchester flavour that oozed coolness and hedonism. And we lapped it up from old to young everyone was bopping along and a few even went up close and personal for a hug from Tom whilst he performed.
After, as we all filed out, it was wonderfully refreshing to see Tom himself helping out at the merch stand (see slightly rickety tables covered in band stuff). After what was undoubtedly a very tiring gig he was still cheerful with the fans and more than happy to chat with them and sign pretty much anything they put in front of him, what a trooper! This was without a doubt one of the most memorable gigs of the season for all the right reasons.9/10