Introduced as Roland Gift’s favourite comedienne Lucy Beaumont is the support act for tonight. Like Gift, she comes from Hull, and her self deprecating act revolves around what it’s like to come from there. She tells us that “London hosts the Olympics while Hull has zumba classes you can smoke in”. It’s a cool way to kick off a gig and her dry observational humour goes down pretty well.
Roland Gift takes the stage to a huge and welcoming reception. His band is made up of lead guitar, bass, keyboards, two female backing vocalists and my brother from another mother Dave Barbarossa (Adam And The Ants, Bow Wow Wow, Cauldronated) with his precise but always funky drumming. When Roland Gift was in the Fine Young Cannibals alongside Andy Cox and David Steele (who formed the band after leaving The Beat) their 1989 album “The Raw And The Cooked” was number one on both sides of the Atlantic. Not surprising then that tonight’s set comprises a few songs from that period.
He launches straight into “Suspicious Minds” his voice sounding as strong and clear as it always did. I can’t think of anyone else who sings quite like Roland Gift, the timbre of his voice being very distinctive. “It’s Only Money”, his solo single from 2002 also gets played but probably the biggest cheers of the night are given when he plays “Good Thing” and “Johnny Come Home”, both songs still sounding great after all this time.
When he takes a short break about halfway through the set his two vocalists sing the words to the Oxo advert “only Oxo does it again and again”. Definitely the first time I’ve heard a live ad break in the middle of a gig.
He politely asks if any of us likes Punk Rock, a cue for the band to play a reggaefied version of “Ever Fallen In Love” by Buzzcocks (they never did have “The” on the front of their name). He calls it one of the greatest songs ever written and his band definitely do it justice.
Other stand out songs are “Not The Man I Used To Be” which borrow heavily from with “Funky Drummer” and “She Drives Me Crazy”, one the audience readily sing along to.
A good gig with Roland Gift proving he’s still got a great voice. Not as high profile an artist as he used to be but still definitely one to catch if you get the chance.