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livepic flag England - Full Moon 147 - 09/15/08

The Only Ones
Down On The Farm Festival, Norway

Rewind - The Only Ones at Down On The Farm Festival

livepic OK, I gladly admit that I was a bit biased and sceptical when I stood outside a barn on a farmyard in the middle of nowhere waiting for one of my all time favourite bands. The concert was due nearly one hour earlier and I was in fact afraid that I was about to witness The Only Ones make fools of themselves and that it would be a real disappointment. I guess just that must have crossed the minds of more of the 4-500 (?) punters who turned up for the occasion. Having read more than one article on the subject of Only Ones touring and the condition of their main singer and songwriter, Peter Perrett, what were we to expect? Earlier in the evening I had watched both The Tindersticks and Chris Bailey of The Saints while I was waiting for the main attraction. The Tindersticks, enhanced by a string and brass section were convincing, albeit a tad misplaced out here. And Bailey, partly backed by one man on snare drum and another on didgeridoo, should definitely have concentrated on his own strong material than doing Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley songs, not to mention the more ad hoc songs the 3-4 drunkards in front seemed to like. Bring a real band next time, stick to your own songs I'll be there.

livepic But I was here for the London quartet and I must initially admit that I probably had the rock'n'roll moment of my life when they as their third song began the intro of "In-betweens" with John Perrys characteristic seagull guitar. I had to fight with myself not to raise my hand in the air and show the devil's sign (as a kind of a parallel to Peter Sellers' German wheelchair-bound scientist in Dr. Strangelove; yeah, I know it's sick). My body was shaking and I was not far from getting spasms, absolutely extraordinary! Who would think that this bunch (Perrett is a survivor at 56, bass player Alan Mair was a pop star with the Beatstalkers in the mid-sixties!) could be able to deliver the goods at this stage of their career? Perry is one of the most interesting guitarists to emerge from the new wave scene and he has total control over his Stratocaster all the time. He supplies the sound picture with elegance and authority when needed. This opportunity is not least due to the solid backing from the rest of the band, and here I have to mention drummer Mike Kellie especially. And this also work in a live setting; I don't think the band played better during their heydays. We got a lot of the classics of course but also three now songs that absolutely were promising for future releases.

livepic It didn't look too good in the start though. Perrett - behind dark glasses - entered the stage wrapped in a wool blanket and reached for the inhalator after the first song. I wasn't expecting the show to last more than a couple of songs more, but soon the band seemed to enjoy themselves despite some trouble with the bass sound in the beginning. Not much talk between songs but the communication through the music was enough for me this evening. Mair promised they would be back in not too long time, preferably in a more suitable setting. With a new record to promote? I'm holding my breath...

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You may also want to check out our Only Ones articles/reviews: Even Serpents Shine, Even Serpents Shine.

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