Tigertailz/Last Great Dreamers - London, Underworld & Oxford, Bullingdon - 15th & 23rd April Print E-mail
Written by Dan Hayes   
Saturday, 04 June 2016 04:00

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There was a time when Tigertailz could do no wrong in these eyes. To this day, 1990’s ‘Bezerk’ sits comfortably amongst my top ten albums of all time – alongside such classics of the era as Mötley Crüe’s ‘Too Fast for Love’, GN’R’s ‘Appetite for Destruction’, and Hanoi Rocks’ ‘Back to Mystery City’. The live shows of the time were equally devastating, but there were many bleak years between 1995’s ‘Wazbones’ and 2006’s ‘Bezerk 2.0’ – a proper return to form, and to the live circuit.

 

Sadly, those times are not these times, and it was with a sense of foreboding that I eyed the prospect of new album, ‘Blast’, and the accompanying tour alongside retrosexual rudeboys, Last Great Dreamers. The problems I have with Tigertailz 2016 are many and varied: the ‘classic’ line-up is long-gone – we all know that, but the tragedies and betrayals that have tormented the band over the years have led to a never-ending revolving door, with ‘Kens’ coming and going faster than the human brain can comprehend; then there’s the recent live form – the last time I saw Tigertailz live was at Hard Rock Hell United, back in March 2015. It wasn’t pretty! “Unrehearsed” is one word for it, and this could be possibly be expected, given that the singer at the time lived halfway across the world, but there was more to it than that, and the presence of Kim Hooker’s backing vocals, a full three years after he was ejected from the band was just taking the piss! Then there’s recent single and accompanying video, ‘Pipped It, Popped It’. Okay, I’ll admit that the song has grown on me a lot since I first clapped eyes on that horrendous video, but what the actual fuck?! If I never see those clown costumes again, it’ll be too soon, and if they bring them to the live shows, I’m outta there! Me and Tigertailz are over!

 

And then there’s the pairing with Last Great Dreamers. On paper, this is the dream line-up. In fact, the first time I ever saw Last Great Dreamers live, they were supporting Tigertailz at the Marquee Club on Charing Cross Road – although both were going by different names at the time (‘Silver Hearts’ and ‘Wazbones’ respectively), but since their return a couple of years ago, the London Dandies have yet to put a foot wrong. Incredible comeback album: check! Consistently awesome live shows: check! Ongoing Pledge campaign-funded third album in the works: check! Sure, Last Great Dreamers never reached the heights that Tigertailz did back in the day, but surely the rock solid and increasingly popular LGD would be better placed headliners on this jaunt than this, as yet untested Tigertailz line-up.

 

But, I wasn’t about to give up on my favourite band that easily, and it was with equal measures trepidation and optimism that I purchased my tickets to these two dates on the ‘Blast Off’ World Tour 2016.

 

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Settling in stage-front at The Underworld three dates into this tour, then, I have to admit to being a little surprised by the size of the crowd. Even before Last Great Dreamers take the stage, the place is looking impressively full, which has to be a good sign, right? Right! Hitting the stage to the now familiar tones of ‘Crash Landing in Teenage Heaven’, it’s immediately apparent that Last Great Dreamers mean business. To be fair, the dingy feel of The Underworld, and the pumped up Friday night crowd provide the perfect setting for the LGD brand of glam-pop, and they’re immediately firing on all cylinders. Next up, ‘No. 1 Wonderboy’ shows the boys are more than comfortable with the newer material, and don’t need to rely on nostalgia to get the party going. This confidence is further reinforced by the airing of recent singles ‘Dope School’ and ‘The Way We Collide’, as well as b-side ‘White Light, Black Heart’ – all three promising great things from the as yet untitled third album.

 

That’s not to say 1994’s ‘Retrosexual’ LP was completely neglected, of course. Stone cold classics such as ‘Far from Home’, ‘Only Crime’ and (of course) ‘Last Great Dreamer’ were all there, as was Marc Valentine’s trademark between song banter. Entertainment of the highest order, leaving Tigertailz with a massive hill to climb!

 

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Anyone who’s seen any of the countless incarnations of Tigertailz over the years will tell you that they are made for bigger stages than that of The Underworld, and Tigertailz 2016 is no different. Clearly out to make a big impression, and kicking off with brand new song, ‘Just for One Night’, the band appears stifled by the cramped conditions. Tucked away in a dark corner of the stage, drummer Matt Blakout is barely visible from where I’m standing, as Rob Wylde (vocals), Jay Pepper (guitar) and Berty Burton (bass) dig deep into the band’s distant past with the Steevi Jaimz era ‘Star Attraction’, and Kim Hooker staples ‘Sick Sex’, ‘I Can Fight Dirty Too’ and, of course, ‘Love Bomb Baby’. Too many new / unheard songs though, and a poor choice of venue leave me cold, therefore, and fearing the worst for the future.

 

On the strength of this performance alone, I considered giving Oxford (the last night of the UK leg of the tour) a miss – preferring instead to remember the good times, but it’s a local(ish) gig for me, so what the hey!

 

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Oxford is a familiar setting for Last Great Dreamers too – this being their third visit to OxRox since their return. The Bullingdon is a bigger venue than they’ve played here before, though, and I was expecting them to struggle to fill it, with or without Tigertailz, but what’s this? The place was rammed even before we got there! Breathing space was a luxury afforded only to the lucky few, and the temperature was rising well before the lights went down for Last Great Dreamers’ set.

 

Reeling out a similar set to that played at The Underworld a week before, Marc, Slyder (guitar), Ian Scruffykid (bass), and new drummer Denley Slade know exactly how to work this crowd, and with more new tracks including ‘Lunacy Lady’, ‘Super Nature Natural’ and latest single, ‘Glitterball Apocalypse’, the future looks very bright indeed for this awesome band.

 

With a bigger stage, and a capacity crowd, Tigertailz had it all to prove tonight, and, fuck me, they only went and did it! Unlikely as it sounds, this was easily amongst my top five Tigertailz gigs ever, and I must have seen them 40+ times! Jay and Matt are long-established members of the band, but tonight Rob truly established himself as the only singer Tigertailz need now, and Berty as a monster behind the bass guitar!

 

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With ‘Blast’ available for a week or two by this point, and burning a hole in the brains of anyone who’d cared to listen to it, the band are clearly a lot more comfortable with the new material – weaving songs like ‘All the Girls in the World’, ‘Bloodsuckers’, and the aforementioned ‘Pipped It, Popped It’ into the set, alongside classics such as ‘Sick Sex’, ‘Heaven’ and ‘Living Without You’. No Tigertailz set is complete without ‘Call of the Wild’ to finish things off, though, and the band duly obliges; ripping Oxford a new one in the process!

 

I had my doubts, and at times I was almost ready to throw in the towel, but Tigertailz proved me wrong; no Kim Hooker backing tapes, no clown costumes, just one awesome band fighting back against years of adversity and coming out on top again, just like we always knew they would, right?

 

If I have one minor gripe, it’s the apparent disregard for the awesome tracks that littered the ‘Wazbones’, ‘Bezerk 2.0’ and ‘Thrill Pistol’ albums; songs like ‘TYFHO’, ‘Dirty Needles’ and ‘Long Live the New Flesh’. Songs that are far more vital to this band’s story than a couple of ill-conceived videos and a Eurovision Song Contest headline. There’s always next time, though.

 

Welcome back, fellas. All is forgiven!