Gig preview: The Bluetones at O2 Academy Leeds

The Bluetones
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Back in 2011 Britpop heroes The Bluetones bade farewell to Leeds with an emotional parting show at the city’s O2 Academy.

Singer Mark Morriss continued as a solo act but four years on it seems the lure of a full band reunion was too good to turn down.

Next month the Slight Return hitmakers – who include vocalistMorriss, his brother Scott on bass, Adam Devlin on guitar and Eds Chesters on drums – pick up where they left off, opening their 20th anniversary UK tour in Leeds.

“We just wanted to play together,” explains 43-year-old vocalist Morriss of the reason behind The Bluetones’ regrouping.

“We missed the simple thing of just being in a room together and thought let’s just go and play some shows.”

Having spent the intervening years starting new careers, Morriss admits restarting the band has been a bit like a family reunion.

“After being together for 20 years we’d all gone off in different directions the last four and it’s felt like a long time.

“I think there was this sense that we loved what we had together and if we don’t use it we’re going to lose it so let’s just play some shows.”

Away from music Chesters set up in business as an osteopath – “He’s done all his exams and he’s got a little surgery in west London,” says Morriss.

Meanwhile Scott Morriss “who was very involved with the artwork for all The Bluetones’ records after the first album” moved to Tokyo. “He now works for an animation company and also does freelance animation.”

Devlin “kept his hand in” by playing with “a few other musicians and working with friends, making records and that sort of thing, helping out”.

In advance of their Jukebox Tour the band – who scored 13 top 40 singles and three top 10 albums in the 1990s and early 2000s –took to social media to invite fans to request songs to be played at their shows.

“We’ve asked people to get in touch with us via our Twitter feed and just let us know what songs they’d like,” Morriss says. “There’s someone who’s monitoring it all and compiling a list for us and we’re going to have a look at it before we go into the rehearsal rooms and it will shape what we deliver.”

Fans shouldn’t, however, hold out for new material at this stage, the singer cautions. “That hasn’t even entered into our conversation. We were just missing the chemistry of playing together, there’s the 20th anniversary [of The Bluetones’ first single, Slight Return] theme hanging around and it’s like if we don’t celebrate it now it’s gone and I don’t think any of us wanted it to pass by.”

Although The Bluetones will forever be associated in popular consciousness with Britpop, Morriss doesn’t feel especially nostalgic about the old times. He does appreciate however that “there doesn’t seem to have been anything else that’s come along since in the last couple of decades that’s captured people’s imaginations quite the way that did”.

He may not go as far as suggesting that guitar pop bands have died out entirely since the turn of the 21st century but he does note that “there certainly doesn’t seem to be any kind of thing you could consider a movement or a groundswell”.

“Everthing’s sort of been bitty since,” he reflects. “I think something around that time caught the imagination of the general public though I think I’m too close to the centre of it to have any idea of what that was.”

The Bluetones play at O2 Academy Leeds on September 16. For details visit http://bluetones.band/

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