Sunday, 6 February 2011

780 POWER OF DREAMS, International Jetsetters, Dirty Royals, Oxford Jericho Tavern, Monday 8 March 2010

This gig represented the return of two old favourites, and could quite easily have walked out of my 1992 vintage gig book! Proof positive that everyone wants to itch that reunion scratch, here's Power Of Dreams, those young spunky Irish upstarts of early 1990s vintage, who delivered a couple of quite incendiary "live" sets in the early 90's, blowing the House Of Love away at Kilburn, then rocking the Reading Festival 1991 tent with a breathless and breathtaking set of high-octane, soaring anthemic powerpop. Never quite matching that same level of excitement on record, they nevertheless released 2 absolutely classic singles in "Stay" and "100 Ways To Kill A Love", before being subsumed in the post-grunge US rock revolution and falling off my radar. In fact, my last recollection of them was at the Nirvana-dominated Reading 1992, when in an ironic metaphor, they were one of the bands cancelled due to the Tent blowing down! Nevertheless, here they are again - and at The Jericho Tavern, no less, scene of many an 80's/ early 90's gig for me!

I trotted down on my own for this one, remembering the old Jericho beat route perfectly and hitting the venue at 8.30 after a slight parking-mare. Walked into the old, allegedly renovated, upstairs room, which for me still smelt of fanzines, just as first support Dirty Royals, well half of them anyway, took the stage. A acoustic performance as, "one of us is in Hollywood and the other is doing his exams!", they were an unexpected delight, impressing mightily with some chunky 60's influenced melodies and splendid two-part harmonies which recalled the likes of Teenage Fanclub and The Gigolo Aunts, no less. The type of rock which should never go out of fashion but sadly does, which I remarked as I complimented singer Simon after.

Second support International Jetsetters were less palatable; looking like a University Lecturer common room jam session, they played a schizophrenic set veering between primitive punk and 60's SoCal pop, doing neither particularly well.

The place, empty early doors, filled to about 1/2 full as Power Of Dreams set up, and, with little fanfare, took the stage at 10.15 and kicked into opener "Bring You Down". No longer the brash young reprobates of legend, they apologised early doors for being, "a little wasted from the curry across the road," and, having not played regularly for 15 or so years, understandably took a little time to settle in. However by "Where Is The Love", they were away, blasting through an amphetamine-fast set based on their debut "Immigrants, Emigrants And Me" which they're touring to celebrate its' 20th anniversary. Now in their stride, they zipped through this set of their trademark short, snappy melodic pop, numbers flashing by like incandescent rocket-powered fireflies. "Stay", comfortably mid-set, got me rocking from my front row spot, and whilst the set, propelled by dynamic flailing sticksman Keith Walker, the MVP for me of this performance, may have lacked some light and shade, predominantly being 100mph colourful pop blasts (a strum-along "Maire" and an unexpectedly reverent cover of the Smiths "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" aside), when the tunes are this good and this dynamically played, who cares? The titanic "100 Ways To Kill A Love", the plaintive chorus echoing around the room, climaxed the set, bookended by a couple of unnecessary but fun encores to cap a soaring and splendid performance.

Despite the lateness of the hour (11.30 by now!) I ran around afterwards to get my hastily-grabbed set list signed and share reminisces with the lads, then was accosted by a chap filming a documentary about the band, and asked to say a few words on film, which was nice. Great to have them back, I said, and it is!

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