I’ve got to be careful here. As I gathered with the worshippers at the brilliant Social Club in the Sheffield suburb of Crookes, I’m well aware that although I’ve loved Michael Head records over the years I’m not at the level of a good proportion of the gathered throng who know every word, every chord change, every trumpet lick (demonstrated in the finale of the show, Meant to Be where the crowd sing the trumpet lick vociferously until the band succumb and reappear for an encore), and seem comfortable talking to him between songs as he gently deflects and agrees and laughs and acknowledges. So I’m desperately fact checking, and i formally apologise in advance if I fall short.
First to take to the stage are fellow Liverpudlian act Astles, who create and atmosphere of their own with keys and cello giving their sound a yearning quality, over which kitchen sink dramas and tales of love and loss – very much in the vein of the main act, and certainly on the cusp of something judging by the current crop of songs and the reaction to them from a very supportive crowd.
And so Michael, the former Pale Fountain and main man with Shack as well as various combos based around his name takes to the stage to a rapturous response with his current crop, The Red Elastic Band. A predominantly young and brilliant band, they back him with brilliant effect throughout as he runs through his repertoire of engaging indie pop and clever sophisti-pop in equal measure.
Beginning with Kismet, a stand out from his recent (and brilliant) album Dear Scott, which litters the set, he mixes things up with a short acoustic set with first one and then both of his guitarists, and by throwing the crowd glorious moments from his past incarnations and past successes.
There’s highlights aplenty as the crowd hang on, and sing, every word, but Newby Street is perfect pop, while songs taken from Dear Scott – including Broken Beauty, Gino and Rico and Pretty Child, prove that Michael’s songwriting is as smart and sharp as it’s always been. As if to prove that point, the songs sit comfortably among the classics as Mick and the band run through numbers such as Comedy, Streets of Kenny and As Long As Ive Got You.
As we walk into the freezing cold night, after a brilliant couple of hours, if I wasn’t before then I now truly am a worshipper. Come back soon Michael.