Last Great Dreamers/Get Loose - Oxford, The Cellar - 28th February 2015 Print E-mail
Written by Dan Hayes   
Friday, 13 March 2015 03:00

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Last Great Dreamers are quite the phenomenon these days - returning to the scene some 20 years after the release of their debut album, looking and sounding not only better than they ever did before, but better than many a band half their age or with twice the road miles!

 

Not only is last year’s ‘Crash Landing in Teenage Heaven’ even better than the stone-cold classic debut ‘Retrosexual’ (1994) - making no less than three Uber Rock scribes’ ‘Album of the Year’ lists, but they’ve only gone and started releasing singles too! A luxury never afforded to them back in the day. Last year’s ‘Ashtray Eyes’ got the ball rolling nicely, with a suitably retro video, and this week’s ‘Supernature Natural’ (debuting exclusively on Uber Rock) promises to raise the band’s profile even higher - hence tonight’s one-off launch party, ahead of a full headline tour in April.

 

The choice of venue for this evening’s celebration is no random selection - ‘The Cellar’ (previously ‘The Dolly’) having been a regular stop-off on the ‘…Dreamers’ heyday gigging schedule, and the place is filling up nicely by the time local favourites Get Loose take the stage. Two things hit me square in the jaw even before opener ‘She’s Got It Now’ rolls into ‘Who’s To Blame?’ Firstly, this blues-rock three-piece are LOUD! I mean REALLY LOUD! Secondly, they can really play. Rhythm section Dom Allen (bass) and Darren Castle (drums) drive this cacophony along at a blinding pace and with a technical prowess that belies their youth, and Lee Castle (vocals/guitar) has to be one of the better young guitarists I’ve seen in a long time - reeling off frantic solos, whilst maintaining faultless rhythm such as this is one thing, but doing so whilst fronting a band is something else!

 

On the down-side, the PA is cranked up so loud that the vocals are lost a bit in the mix, and by the time Little Richard’s ‘Lucille’ rounds out this eight song set, I still haven’t decided how good a singer Lee Castle actually is. I really hope he has the pipes to match the buckets full of talent on display tonight, and with a debut album already in the pipeline, look forward to hearing great things from these guys.

 

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Last Great Dreamers are no slouches either, of course, and new boys Ian Scruffykid (bass) and Ginge (drums), with half a dozen LGD gigs behind them now, look and sound like they’ve been there all along - the perfect foils for the longer serving Marc Valentine (vocals/guitar) and Slyder (guitar/vocals).

 

From the off, it’s clear that tonight is no normal gig. The Cellar is full now, with familiar faces from the past jostling with LGD virgins and the mood is party all the way! Kicking things off with ‘Chrome Tonic’, it’s clear the band are up for it too. ‘Far From Home’ completes a quick one-two from ‘Retrosexual’, to lure the old-timers in, before ‘Hello’, ‘Mary Wants’ and ‘Lunacy Lady’ have the crowd looking furtively towards the merch stand - anxious to get their copy of the new album before they’re all gone!

 

At this point, things get a bit weird…

 

We all knew we were getting something a bit different from tonight’s gig, but no one expected the band to be joined onstage by an astronaut - ‘Captain Helmet’, apparently - and for said spaceman to wander through the audience armed with goodie-bags containing exclusive one-off merchandise. On further investigation, the lucky few to receive these bundles of joy found them to include limited edition promo copies of the new single, signed by the band!

 

And with that, the boys launched into ‘Supernature Natural’, and the evening’s main set - drawn equally from both albums: ‘Super Boy Disaster’ was followed by ‘Streets Of Gold’ was followed by ‘Only Crime’ was followed by ‘Ashtray Eyes’, and before we knew it, it was time for ‘Last Great Dreamer’ and ‘Crash Landing in Teenage Heaven’ to finish the evening off for us. We’d all been having such a great time, we didn’t see the end coming - standing there in sweaty bewilderment as the band left the stage and the lights went up, indicating it was time for us to head out into the cold February night.

 

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We weren’t about to be let off as lightly as all that though, and it wasn’t too long before they were back to treat us to the raucous finale of ‘Sunset Over Suzi’ followed by ‘Charlie’, which several of the more boisterous punters took as an opportunity to ensure they went home with the requisite broken ribs and beer-soaked leathers. The best of times was had by all!

 

And that, Uber Readers, was that - another triumphant notch in the bedpost for one of the most spectacular returns in recent memory. Back in the day, Last Great Dreamers were a hard act to beat, and to have come back (like so many do) and tarnished the memory of a once great band would have been unforgivable. Happily, these forever young Londoners are above such nonsense, and are getting better and better with every outing. You’d be a fool to miss them if they come near you this year!

 

Photographs by Darren Stockford http://www.darrenstockford.com/

 

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