Wet Wet Wet, support from Ben McKelvey, Markus Feehily, at Inverness Leisure Centre, 14/3/2016. Review.
Wet Wet Wet’s gig had sold out a few days prior to their debut in Inverness. Not bad for a Monday night, not bad for a band that had played two other big Scottish dates the two nights before. Not bad at all.
It couldn’t have been plain sailing though, the Clydebank boys had experienced an undesirable first for their career earlier in the tour; a cancellation of a gig in Cardiff. Had this happened tonight, there would have been a riot, maybe one orchestrated by women of a certain age, but a riot none the less.
It was the faster moving songs at the end of the set, including ‘Stay Young’, that grabbed the audience’s attention.
It was London based Ben McKelvey, joined by his Firebrands, that had the unenviable task of opening. The band were dressed in black jeans and T-shirts which contradicted their indie pop sound. Perhaps ‘Morning Has Gone’ drew similarities with Eagle-Eye Cherry’s ‘Save Tonight’. It was the faster moving songs at the end of the set, including ‘Stay Young’, that grabbed the audience’s attention.
There was a real end of term feel for Ben raising the stakes for a gig which started off as the “best gig of the tour” and ending as “the best gig in the last ten years”. Ben was keen to promote his new album ‘Life and Love in England’ and his offer of hugs and even telephone numbers, it was tongue in cheek I think, in exchange for CD sales I suspect would have increased attention at the merch tent.
Next up was Markus Feehily, no stranger to a strong female audience with his time as one of the lead singers of Westlife. Stylistically he has moved on, he has a leaning towards the use of samples including Clannad, complementing his soulful vocals. His ballad ‘Only You’ had the hall echoing with ‘Ooh Ooh, Oohs” but of course the biggest response came for the tracks that he played with Westlife; ‘You Raise Me Up’ and ‘Flying Without Wings’.
he too was clearly impressed with the response from the audience
He finished with the acclaimed debut single ‘Love is a Drug’, he too was clearly impressed with the response from the audience who could consider themselves well and truly warmed up.
There was an obvious irony that Wet Wet Wet had chosen the home of the Aquadome as the venue for their gig, but that didn’t detract from the impressive stage that was set fro the band. The set up for the night was huge, LCC events had described it as Inverness Leisure Centre’s biggest ever production.The big screen in the middle of the stage found itself used for some of the most gratuitously retro, dare I say, cheesy graphics; a bandit came on for ‘Wishing I was Lucky’, fingers clicking signalled the beginning of ‘Sweet Little Mystery’, you get the idea.
By the time Wet Wet Wet came to the stage to play their two hour plus set, the audience were in fine tune, the wine had been flowing but not to the volume that would have caused too many queues to the toilets, well it was a school night after all.
Marti Pellow has lost none of his charm and charisma, he is both old enough to know better and young enough not to care. As he joins the rest of the band for opener ‘East of the River’ you can not tell who is enjoying it more, Marti or the audience lapping up every song anecdote, smile and dance. By the end of the night I am still unsure who has enjoyed themselves more.
There is a lot of love for Inverness from the band, “we fucking love it” says Tommy, that is despite the band being snubbed by the Loch Ness Monster, who had been put on the guest list (even the lure of a plus one did not work for Nessie). It’s a shame as Marti said “I like to party with a monster’.
the joining choir of the audience that stands out, it is a truly impressive thing to witness
Whilst all the hits are present and correct, it is ‘Goodnight Girl’ with the joining choir of the audience that stands out, it is a truly impressive thing to witness as the audience are wonderfully in tune. I am guessing that the audience have had lots of practise. Marti, clearly impressed announces “you know what Inverness, you’re in the band”.
Perhaps the medley ,of ‘Angel Eyes (Home and Away)’, ‘Temptation’ and ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, did seem a bit too mashed up compromising elements of each of their well known tunes. There would have been few complaints though, nobody would have been brave enough.
There were hints as to what the future holds with ‘Love Wars’ which was a simple song by Marti’s definition, the imagery on the video suggest more to it, but perhaps the song not so much. Marti does some market research at the end of the song “would you buy a new album from us and not download it” The audience promises to buy the album, the audience would arguably do anything for Marti and co. He then playfully fumbles the release date of the album.
A slowness of pace was marked at the latter end of the stage, but as one of the audience noted “I think Marti realised that his audience was not as young as they used to be”. ‘Sweet Little Mystery’ marked an increase in tempo, Marti alluded to the issue of credits to the song “John Martyn was due his slice of that pie”. The audience quickly responded, perhaps as they correctly sensed that the end was nigh. The encore as it had been for the rest of the tour saw ‘Lip Service’ paired with set closer and infernal earworm ‘Love is All Around’.
It would have taken a hardened soul to not have succumbed to Marti and the rest of the Wets. It was indeed an impressive evening for all those involved, it might have been their first time playing Inverness, we suspect it won’t be their last.