The Darling Buds
100 Club, London
September 22, 2010
You’d be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu here. Is it 1989? Did The Primitives and The Darling Buds really both play London within a week of each other? Absent from the live scene since the mid ’90s, for both bands to surface at the same time is a special delight and brings back memories of a time when the music magazines invented a scene called ‘Blonde’, where bands were lumped together based on the lead singer’s hair colour. Which by their way of thinking meant you were either a Blonde, a Goth or in Fairground Attraction.
The Darling Buds, like The Primitives, made for great bursts of pop music, 45’s full of jangled chords and honeyed vocals that lit up like neon and fizzed like cheap champagne. They were impossible to ignore and their singers had us wrapped around their fingers. Blonde wasn’t to last, both acts going the way of the dinosaur and seemingly lost to memory (except for the modest crowd of Londoners and bussed in fans from Newport) until now. Vocalist Andrea Lewis looks as if she just walked off the set of Top of The Pops 18 years ago, which made the experience for those who were never there the first time around all the sweeter.
Dispensed within the first 5 minutes, the garage stomping “Burst” has confetti littering the stage and a shared feeling of ‘that was fucking brilliant!’ spread around the room. And it was. It’s hard to screw up three chord pop songs and with Andrea in perfect voice they bolted through selections from all three albums as if they were burnt into their memories. Mid-set surprises included a rendition of Velvet Underground’s “Femme Fatale”, a song they covered at their first ever gig. Noticeably absent were both “Crystal Clear” and “Tiny Machine” the two singles from their second album Crawdaddy, which I assume were passed over because of their distinctly dated ‘dance beats n’ samples’ sound in favour of more tried and true selections.
Debut single “If I Said” took us back to where it all started, proving that there was room for C86 bands to sneak into the mainstream charts. By the end of the set, it was clear that The Darling Buds songs had lost none of their charm over the forgotten years. Finishing up with an encore of Pop Said’s “Let’s Go Round There”, the feeling wasn’t so much a reunion of a much-missed band, but a re-airing of some much-loved songs.