Review - Sleeper at The Welly in Hull

AS AN indication of just how intimate the venues are which they are now frequenting, Sleeper arrived on stage in Hull after weaving their way through the crowd.

Sleeper, back on the road with the promise of a new album.
Sleeper, back on the road with the promise of a new album.

No grand entrance from a backstage area, and as singer Louise Wener walked past, the over-riding impression was just how diminutive she actually is.

But turn the clock back nearly 25 years, and she was always one of biggest personalities of the pop culture phenomenon that was Britpop.

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Despite the advent of middle-age, that charisma still shone through as the band performed an 80-minute set which unsurprisingly focused on their greatest hits.

Sleeper performing at The Welly in Hull.

The fans’ favourites were always going to dominate as this was an evening of indie-pop reminiscence, from the opening track of Nice Guy Eddie via a gloriously upbeat What Do I Do Know? to the naggingly infectious riffs of Inbetweener.

Wener was always at the forefront of Sleeper’s success, a huskily-voiced performer who had an eye for satire – summed up by the retro T-shirts on the merchandise stall emblazoned with the Another Female Fronted Band logo that she made famous back in the mid-1990s.

Thrown into the mix were a couple of new tracks – Blue Like You along with And The Sun Also Rises - which served as a tempting taste of what could come with a new album from a band who burned so brightly before being extinguished as the lantern of British pop music combusted in the late 1990s.

Ironically, one of the biggest cheers was reserved for Atomic, the Blondie classic which Sleeper covered for the Trainspotting film soundtrack, and the live version took on an added element of nostalgia with a brief segue into Joy Division’s Only Love Can Tear Us Apart midway through.

Sleeper were one of the more unlikely bands to jump on the bandwagon of nostalgia and reform amidst the glut of groups hoping to capitalise on a middle-aged audience’s desire to feel young again during an evening’s entertainment.

Wener was always a woman who knew where to push the boundaries before stopping short of becoming a parody of herself – she had subsequently turned her back on music and has become a successful author while living in her adopted home city of Brighton.

But seeing her back on stage, giving glimpses of the coquettish pop star of her youth, it became apparent that this was not simply a trip down memory lane.

Sleeper were a band who were as important to Britpop as the musical movement was to them.

And it is good to have them back in the fray in the 21st century.