Electric Boys @ Newcastle Think Tank?, March 19 2019
Had Lenny Kravitz not sold his soul for commercial gain he might just have been a match for the imperious Conny Bloom. Then again, had the charismatic leader of the Electric Boys enjoyed sustained chart success, rather than critical acclaim and cult status, he could be lounging on a beach in the Bahamas or managing an organic farm in Brazil (Lenny, it seems, does both).
But who is the happier?
Watching the colourful Bloom lead a small but perfectly formed crowd through a career-spanning set, it was impossible to believe that the Swedish frontman would rather be anywhere else than trawling the clubs of Britain in support of his band’s latest crowd-funded album.
Energetic, entertaining and wholly engaging, the 54-year-old didn’t look or sound like a jaded journeyman scarred by a failure to win global fame or amass a multi-million pound fortune. Three mates, two beers and an hour or so in the company of a handful of sweaty Geordies appeared to be just the trick for a beaming Bloom. Perhaps Kravitz should try it sometime.
With Bloom, in particular, launching himself into the band’s new material with the appetite of a man half his age, The Electric Boys are clearly proud of last year’s The Ghost Ward Diaries. So they should be.
There She Goes Again (those hoping for a cover of the Quireboys’ classic were sorely disappointed…until it became clear this version is just as jolly) and forthcoming single Gone, Gone, Gone (Bloom revealed a Record Store Day release has been confirmed) both stood toe to toe with the band’s back catalogue classics.
But of those crowd favourites it’s difficult to look beyond the rollicking Groovus Maximus, sugary sweet Mary In The Mystery World – replete with its canny No Woman, No Cry intro – and party-starting (or, in this case ending) All Lips N’ Hips when seeking to justify the Kravitz comparisons.
Bloom didn’t, as it happens, go Lenny’s way and mainstream rock and roll has always been the poorer for it. He did, however, plough a unique creative furrow which continues to underpin a band far more significant than their modest sales suggest.
Main support Last Great Dreamers can sympathise. Very much a band out of time, the bar room rock and rollers recorded debut Retrosexual under the tutelage of the late Eric Cooke on Tyneside 25 years ago. Fusing glam, punk, pop and ska, theirs was a sound never destined to trouble the unrelenting advance of grunge and yet a glorious return to the North East proved there’s plenty of life in the old dogs yet.
Five years into an unlikely reunion and the Dreamers continue to dream. A busy touring schedule and brand new material has focused the minds of chief protagonists Marc Valentine and Slyder and Newcastle was treated to a vintage set from the retro quartet.
And so to local heroes Edenthorn and an early shift inside the Tank. Frontman Kyle Michael Tague captured the imagination from the get-go and the band’s on-trend fusion of 90s alt rock and modern metal continues to evolve. A permanent fixture on the North East scene, discovering a wider audience is the biggest challenge facing the hugely talented homegrown heroes.
Images By Gordon Armstrong