Last Great Dreamers/The Sonic Jewels - London, Camden, Purple Turtle - 21st September 2014 Print E-mail
Written by Dan Hayes   
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 03:20

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There have certainly been higher profile returns to the UK rock scene in recent years than that of retrosexual rudeboys Last Great Dreamers: 90s chart-toppers Little Angels’ return in 2012 was as unexpected as it was overdue, but ultimately short-lived; whilst the classic incarnation of The Dogs D’Amour promised much with the excellent ‘Cyber Recordings 2013’ EP and a handful of gigs, but seems for now to be back on ice. Amongst those that know though, Last Great Dreamers are something else entirely, and the announcement earlier this year that they were back – not only with a new album ready to hit the decks, but also with the further promise of live dates to follow – induced frenzy amongst their admirably patient fan base.

 

And so, with ‘Crash Landing in Teenage Heaven, still fresh in our ears, and (LG)D-Day finally upon us, we make our way (lost) along the Northern Line in search of the comeback gig of the year. There was a time when it seemed I was at a Silver Hearts/Last Great Dreamers/Jet City (they did like to mess around with their name) gig every other weekend. They were such a big part of my life back then that the thought of seeing them live once again fills me with more excitement than I should admit to at my age, and as we swap stories en route to Camden’s Purple Turtle tonight, I can feel that same familiar buzz I last felt what seems like a lifetime ago.

 

First up tonight though, we have The Sonic Jewels. Described as an “unholy amalgam of Hendrix, MC5, Wilko Johnson and The Stooges whilst also giving a nod of approval to ‘70s Glam Rock”, I have to confess to being completely unfamiliar with The Sonic Jewels until tonight, but who can resist such a temptation, right? RIGHT! These guys really know how to rock, and by the end of the second song I’m bouncing along to another great undiscovered British rock band – transported back in time (Life On Mars style) to a world of glitter balls, lava lamps and flock wallpaper! Seriously, these guys are so retro they make Last Great Dreamers feel positively contemporary! Lifting tracks from their debut long-player ‘The Dark Road To Venus’, including ‘The Anxiety Rocket’, ‘Nothing Pretty’ and the awesomely titled ‘Sniff The Riff’, The Sonic Jewels keep it short and sweet, leaving a Purple Turtle packed with the newly converted, before cleaning up at the merch-stand. Job done!

 

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Arriving on stage to the familiar opening chords of ‘Chrome Tonic’, Marc Valentine (vocals and guitar) looks genuinely surprised at just how busy the Purple Turtle is tonight. Any fears that no one would remember or care about Last Great Dreamers after such a long absence evaporate, and the band hit full throttle before the end of the first verse.

 

The first thing to strike me though is just how young these men of advancing years still look. The years have clearly been kinder to them than they have the rest of us – no balding heads or bear bellies for these boys, and the on-stage energy as they wrap up the opening number is clearly designed to spur us into action, which it does, as the boys rip into ‘Far From Home’.

 

Leading off with two familiar tracks from their 20 year-old debut album might seem like a safe start, but it’s a worthwhile reminder of just how great the old songs are. There have been plenty of references over the years to the poor production job afforded to ‘Retrosexual’ back in the day, but there’s none of that when the band flexes their muscle on stage. These are classic pop-rock songs, written to be played live and loud.

 

But, this is no nostalgia-fest. Now that we’re all in the mood to party, LGD take the road less travelled and treat us to nine, count them, nine of the 11 tracks from the new album. Highlights include (all of them really, but…) ‘Supernature Natural’, latest single ‘Ashtray Eyes’, the beautiful ‘Gold Painted Butterfly’ (dedicated to friends sadly lost along the way), and the awesome ‘Superboy Disaster’ – new boys Ian Scruffykid (bass) and (original Silver Hearts man) Ginge (drums) blending seamlessly with the established frontline of Valentine and Slyder (guitar and vocals).

 

By now, things are getting a bit silly down the front, with (over)grown men having far more fun than can be good for them, but it would’ve been rude not to drop the eponymous ‘Last Great Dreamer’ in there somewhere, and the boys oblige accordingly, before rounding out the main set with ‘Crash Landing In Teenage Heaven’ (what else?), leading to more tomfoolery in the stalls!

 

After the best part of 20 years away, there’s no way we’re going to let them leave it there, and it isn’t long before the lads return to send us on our way. First though, we are treated to a rare outing for ‘Sunset Over Suzi’ – an early Silver Hearts track that is crying out to be rerecorded for the next album, and a good point to acknowledge the presence of Steve Grainger (original LGD drummer, last seen playing for the awesome Tango Pirates) in the crowd. Honestly, it’s like the Multi-Coloured Rollercoaster Ride had never ended!

 

‘Lady’ finishes the set off in boisterous style, and the band leaves the stage for the final time – Marc declaring as he goes “See you in another 20 years”. Thankfully, we now know this not to be the case, as a new clutch of dates have since been announced, taking the band at least into early 2015.

 

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We’ve seen a world of change in the last 20 years. Great bands have come and gone (and come back again), whilst less deserving bands have risen to stratospheric heights. The story of Last Great Dreamers though is one that was never fully told. Great songs and great entertainment will always endure though, and armed with a back catalogue as strong as theirs, this could just be Marc, Slyder and the boys’ time.

 

Upon these words I place my destiny.

 

Photographs courtesy of our old mate Darren Stockford, who also just happens to pen a mean blog, which you can read HERE!

 

To pick up your copy of 'Crash Landing in Teenage Heaven' - CLICK HERE