Review: The Wonder Stuff, Leeds O2 Academy

FOR a West Midlands town with a population of a little over 63,000, to lay claim to a musical scene is either a very clever marketing ploy '“ or one very big quirk of fate.

Miles Hunt, frontman of The Wonder Stuff.

Thankfully, in the case of The Wonder Stuff and their Stourbridge Scene comrades, Ned’s Atomic Dustin and Pop Will Eat Itself, it has always proved to be the later.

And 32 years after they formed, the Stuffies remain in triumphant form for their latest foray on the road, dubbed the Love From Stourbridge Tour.

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But while taking the headline slot, this was never solely about The Wonder Stuff.

Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – famously named after a Goon Show episode - may be listed second on the bill but they were given an equal 75-minute time slot to run through their back catalogue, with PWEI founder Graham Crabb taking on DJing duties between the sets.

Ned’s themselves were always seen by many as a triumph of style over substance – best remembered for their T-shirt sales rather than their albums. While singer Jonn Penney’s exuberance on stage may be somewhat tempered by the passing of the years, the set did prove Ned’s have songs to match some of the best memorabilia of the early 1990s – Grey Cell Green, Terminally Groovy, Happy and Kill Your Television all peppered the set.

And like any band whose heyday was more than 20 years ago, The Wonder Stuff were only too aware what the crowd had come for, and dutifully obliged.

A greatest hits set began with Red Berry Joy Town, the song that launched the band’s first album, The Eight Legged Groove Machine.

And from there it was an hour-and-a-quarter dominated by tracks from the late 1980s and early 1990s, from the violin-led On The Ropes and Mission Drive to the gloriously simple sentiments of It’s Yer Money I’m After, Baby and Give, Give, Give Me More, More, More.

In fact, the 20-song set list featured just two tracks post-1993 – Don’t You Ever and For The Broken Hearted which were both released two years ago.

But for a night of unashamed nostalgia, it was never going to be any other way.