The Undertones and Neville Staple Band still providing Teenage Kicks for the middle aged

Teenage Kicks is, by some distance, The Undertones' best-known song, thanks largely to its patronage by the late, great Radio One DJ John Peel.

Friday, 10th May 2019, 3:33 pm
The Undertones singer Paul McLoone performing at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

But it's by no means the only pop-punk classic in the Derry boys' armoury, as they demonstrated at a bustling Boiler Shop in Newcastle last night.

The band are celebrating the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut album, which is still among my top 10 records of all time.

The Undertones bassist Mickey Bradley performing at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

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A lot of other music fans of my vintage obviously feel the same, and many were here as four of the five original members took us back to our youth.

Feargal Sharkey is the odd man out, of course, the singer having chosen not to rejoin his old bandmates when they reconvened in 1999.

His place was taken by fellow Derryman Paul McLoone, a radio presenter and producer who has stamped his own mark on the band as frontman.

To show they're not content to live on past glories, The Undertones have released two albums' of new material, Get What You Need in 2003 and Dig Yourself Deep in 2007.

The Undertones brought the 40th anniversary tour for their debut album to The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Five songs from those made the setlist tonight, with the pick of them being the rollocking Thrill Me, and they didn't sound at all out of place among the classics.

It was the oldies which the audience wanted to hear, however, and the band duly obliged, starting with Family Entertainment, the opening track of the aforementioned debut album.

They didn't play the record in order from start to finish, as they had to celebrate its 30th anniversary, but most of it got an airing over the next 90 minutes.

Instead, 40-year-old gems like Jimmy Jimmy, Male Model, Jump Boys, and Girls Don't Like It were scattered through the set like stardust, ready to lift the mood like a visit from an old friend.

The Undertones guitarist Damian O' Neill performing at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

Half of their second album, 1980's Hypnotised, also made the cut, including a thunderous take on Tearproof which was right up there with Get Over You and Here Comes The Summer as my choice for song of the night.

Make no mistake, The Undertones can rock with the best of them, and tonight they sounded heavier than I've ever heard them. And of course we got the ubiquitous Teenage Kicks not once but twice - firstly mid-set and then as an unscripted extra encore.

They finally left the stage after 90 minutes and 31 songs, and you can bet your record collection on the fact every single person here would have stood through the whole show again.

Mention needs to be made, too, of the special guests who opened the show, The Neville Staple Band.

The Undertones guitarist John O'Neill performing at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.

The original rude boy made his name as a singer and toaster with two-tone heroes The Specials back in the late '70s, and after a couple of spells with the reunited band, has ploughed his own furrow for the last few years.

Specials originals like Gangsters, Do The Dog, Ghost Town, Concrete Jungle feature heavily in their set, along with ska classics like the wonderful Johnny Too Bad, Pressure Drop and Monkey Man.

Staple was also a member of Fun Boy Three, of course, and their Top 10 hit The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum was a popular choice, as was their Bananarama collaboration Really Saying Something, with his wife Sugary taking lead vocals.

For me, the high point of their hour-long set was A Message To You Rudy, which prompted one of the biggest singalongs of the night. If you like your ska, I can't recommend the Neville Staple Band highly enough.

The Neville Staple Band, fronted by the former co-vocalist of The Specials, were special guests of The Undertones at The Boiler Shop in Newcastle. Pic: Gary Welford.