It’s a cold dark night as the clocks fall back in Liverpool, with autumn playing its role as nature’s support act to the greatest season to its fullest this evening. It is a musical evening without it’s own support act, as we are part of the growing phenomenon of the co-headline tour, usually consisting of two bands from yesteryear. In the case of this evening and the rest of their tour, they are alternating who gets to go on last, presumably based on geography and fan followings in the particular city in question.
So tonight it’s Leeds finest, CUD on first and local returning heroes The Boo Radleys later on, both bands doing full 75 minute sets.
For those not familiar with CUD, they were one of the mainstays of that weird musical scene that happened just before Grunge and Britpop. It had no catchy name but produced some excellent music (The Wonder Stuff, Carter USM, Pop Will Eat Itself et al) and CUD were certainly up there with the best.
As the sound of the raging French spoken word intro fades away, the band swagger onstage. Frontman Carl Puttnam is quite the picture, ageing like both a fine wine, and a potential Vic Reeves lookalike, they kick straight into an opening salvo of singles, ‘Purple Love Balloon’ and ‘Through The Roof’.
“We are the Cud band and we are here to entertain you; we’ve not been here since 2008.”
They are keen to make up for last time, and as well as some deep cuts from the back catalogue we also get a couple of their newer tracks (‘Sorry I Let You Down’ sounding especially huge). Puttnams’ vocals are as strong and enduring as ever, his dance moves something to behold. The crowd may not be the busiest that they’ve ever played to, but you would never know any difference as we get stunning versions of ‘Only (A Prawn In Whitby)’ and ‘Neurotica’ with it’s chorus of “lacerate Me, lacerate Me” something of an out of the ordinary singalong.
“It’s THE HIT”.
This welcomes in the chart-number 24-smash (that was a big deal back in the day) ‘Rich And Strange’, which gets the biggest reaction of the set. CUD close with their live staples ‘Hey Boots‘ and ‘I’ve Have Had It With Blondes’ and their 75 minutes has gone far too soon.
It occurs to me in the interval that the two bands didn’t really have success concurrently, it’s very much like it is tonight, with CUD leaving the scene as The Boo Radleys arrive and at 9:30 they do just that.
The Boos are finding their feet again after reforming – albeit without their other main guitarist and songwriter Martin Carr – with the release of their latest album Eight. Lead singer Sice looks delighted to be back on home turf; he holds a grin that never leaves his face all evening. He tells us that there’ll be a smattering from all eight albums this evening, however they rely on their recently reissued, 30 years old this year, Giant Steps for almost half of the set with only one track (‘How Was I To Know’) from the new record.
Sice does let himself down early on, though, by breaking the unwritten law of playing in Liverpool, which is to not mention the football with his ‘banter’ not going down terribly well with at least half of the crowd. Luckily, he redeems himself by getting the first big cheers of the set with ‘Wish I Was Skinny’ and ‘Find The Answer Within’, a sole trumpeter adding an extra layer.
It’s a shame that some of their most interesting Top 40 singles (‘What’s In The Box’, ‘It’s Lulu’, ‘C’mon Kids’) are omitted. This means that the set occasionally lapses into album tracks territory with which the audience are far less familiar, but there’s always a thrashy pop song, such as ‘Lazy Day‘, to break it up, even though Sice is less than complimentary about the parent album that spawned it.
‘Melodies For The Deaf’ is pleasantly shonky and inspires quite the light show before the sardonic chug of ‘Lazarus’, they still have time to pay tribute to their tour mates by covering one of their latest singles ‘Victoria’.
The evening ends in the only way possible, with the sound of the Britpop classic ‘Wake Up Boo’.
This could have been a 1990’s nostalgic lap of honour, but instead it’s two bands with fire still burning in their bellies, whichever one of them is headlining.