Black Grape Forum London 26th June 2015

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It is a summer’s night in Kentish Town north west and there is an edging vibe in the air as the pubs outside the iconic Forum, once known as The Town and Country Club,
which to me is a much better name (oh well you have to accept things you can’t change and all that) are filled with Black Grape fans and familiar faces waiting to see the reunion tour of the 90s band performing all their number one album It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah, from 1995 twenty years on. It’s hard to describe Black Grape fans as they are all from different walks of life congregating around the boozers, loud yes, upbeat yes, maverick yes, aggressive not sure, as it feels it could kick off at any time, I am slightly unsettled but drawn to it.

ZANI interviewed Shaun Ryder last month prior to this reunion tour, he seemed happy, focussed and ready to go with Black Grape, in fact he was highly enthusiastic, it was infectious, which made me want to go and see them live. So here I am, open minded and getting into the ambience. As I enter into the Forum the support act Alias Kid are playing their final numbers, they are confident and “aving it”, a dark yet upbeat sound, and they were playing from their hearts, pure passion and I like it, so does the crowd. Alias Kid leave the stage to much generous support, sure bigger things lay ahead for them. Classic reggae comes on, and the tension rises again.

The wait for Black Grape is long and the crowd are drinking more, with the tension growing. Then around 10 pm, maybe a little later, Seth Leppard Guitar ; Mikey Shine Bass; Che Beresford Drums and Dan Broad Keyboards, Guitar & Programming come on stage with a real strut, like they are taking their rightful place. The crowd starts to cheer, loud cheers, knowing it’s only a question of time before the two front men Shaun Ryder and Kermit Leveridge take centre stage. Ryder and Kermit are master showmen and know how to hold back, create a feeling of anxiety and excitement, the crowd are getting restless, this is wonderful to witness, then bang, the two front walk on stage, the crowd goes mental and make pace towards the stage, a tribal gathering. Black Grape opens with In The Name of the Father and please believe me the roof comes off. Mesmerising, totally and utterly mesmerising. Black Grape have got the audience eating out of the palm of their hand.

The rest of the gig was equally as enthralling as the band launch straight into Tramazi Party, knowing they have won the crowd, and now everyone wants to celebrate Black Grape back in London, a North invasion of the South if you like. As for Ryder and Kermit they have a natural chemistry, and this comes across on stage, they are clearly enjoying themselves as their camaraderie is hypnotic with the spirit of youth. Kermit working the crowd with his amazing vocal style, Ryder looking as cool as fxxk in his leather jacket and as a guess, Ray Ban Glasses, swaggers about the stage oozing with self confidence and saying “we nearly didn’t make it ‘cos we got stuck on the fucking motorway ,” classic Ryder.

The rest of the band is a tight and talented band playing powerful and moving music. By now the crowd is united, the tension is stronger than ever, but it’s for the music, no one seriously cares what you look like, who you are, as long as you are here to enjoy yourselves, it’s spiritual. They play much of It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah and some from the follow up album Stupid Stupid Stupid, such as Get Higher and Tell Me Something, and closing with Little Bob. Even though the album came out twenty years ago it does not sound retro, far from it, It sounds new, unique and refreshing. The lights come on, “but the crowd called out for more”, smiles and glances are exchanged, everyone leaves the Forum, thinking the same, that was a mind blowing experience…….

© Photos – Elspeth Moore
Read 5448 times Last modified on Thursday, 02 July 2015 21:54
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