You write the reviews: Inspiral Carpets, New Roadmender, Northampton


The reunion bandwagon continues to plough its relentless furrow through modern music, but at least the latest stragglers to re-appear were once pioneers of their time. Pre-Britpop, Inspiral Carpets were central to the much-celebrated Madchester scene along with their fellow Mancunians Stone Roses and Happy Mondays.

"You're looking much younger than us," declared the keyboard-player, Clint Boon, before mistakenly playing "Weakness" while the rest of the band played "Move". "He's been cryogenically frozen," joked the singer, Tom Hingley.

Time may have withered the memory and expanded the waistline, but bluster and energy formed a potent mix in an 18-song set. This was palpable from the opening number, "Dragging Me Down", an intoxicating stomp driven by Boon's Farfisa organ, a staple ingredient of any Inspiral Carpets song. Tom Hingley has lost none of his vocal clarity, either, and in "Two Worlds Collide", he pleaded, "What have I done with my life?", a question fans have been asking for 13 years.

Having once claimed that Inspiral Carpets were a "psychedelic beer band", Hingley bemoaned the fact that he'd spent the day "dry" before seeking the audience's approval to crack open a bottle. As "She Comes in the Fall" pounded into life, the audience toasted Hingley by throwing lager over themselves. It was just like the old times.

"Generations" may have vanished into the annals of music history, but as the bass player, Martyn Walsh, scythed his fret board in maniacal fashion, the song was brought vividly back to life. Those brave souls standing within striking distance must have seen their past flash before their eyes.

The sound was amplified by the introduction of "I Want You", the result of a collaboration between Inspiral Carpets and the Fall's frontman, Mark E Smith. Hingley proclaimed that everyone was "climbing aboard on a white-knuckle ride" just as the drummer, Craig Gill, set about assaulting the senses. The noise was mesmerising in its intensity.

The pulse was slowed by the encore, during which Hingley re-introduced members of the band. Finally, Graham Lambert plucked the opening chords to "Bitches Brew" and all seemed calm again. The atmosphere, though, remained thick with nostalgia, and this was further elevated by the final song. "Saturn 5" was a Top 20 hit for the band in 1994. But judging by the raised hands and filled lungs, its position should have been much higher.

Paul Bingley, Airline Commercial Executive, Ridgewell, Essex

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