Friday, 13 April 2012

REVIEW: Northern Uproar - Coming Around:Live And Acoustic 17.2.12

They were picked on by the music press and dismissed by some as another bunch of Oasis wannabes. But those who actually LISTENED will know that their music was far beyond that: full of irresistible melodic hooks, bursting with punk energy and boasting excellent songwriting skills which came as a surprise considering their young age. Over a decade later, and with the benefit of hindsight the music of Northern Uproar is well overdue a critical reappraisal. After a short reunion in 2007 (which produced the brilliant 'Stand And Fight' LP) the band reappeared last year and played a number of shows to ecstatic and enthusiastic audiences full of people still moved by these lost classics of the 1990's. 


Encouraged and revitalised, the band's new live album breathes fresh new life into some of these underrated gems and with the addition of an excellent new track also shows Leon Meya's songwriting is as sharp as ever. The songs are stripped to their bare bones and still sound incredible without the familiar production and full instrumentation, proving just how strong the group's material is. Furthermore the band are clearly confident and proud of their musical output, so much so that they don't even need to rely on the safety net of their biggest hit 'From A Window', which is absent from this set. In the context of now, the vibrant Manics-esque 'Memories' is delivered with a shot of fond nostalgia, its chorus of "all the days when we were young, you know the music brought us just as one" seeming pleasingly apt. 


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Played completely acoustically, 'Rough Boy''s verse has a touch of early Beatles about its melody while the bridge dips into cool shoegazing before a typically 1996 chorus emerges. While such nostalgia is an utter pleasure, Northern Uproar aren't just looking backwards, for the presence of a brilliant new song confirms that the band are in a rich vein of form and are still very necessary to have around. This song is the subtlely uplifting 'Coming Around' which comes with a simple, stunning chorus and states that "it ain't nearly over yet". If this is anything to go by, the band's upcoming fourth album should be well worth looking forward to. In its live form and without its wonderful string arrangement, 'Town' loses none of its British melancholy, still conjuring up images of miserable faces on rainy streets, and while the classic 'Any Way You Look' isn't quite as superb without the brass it's still delivered with enough enthusiasm to maintain that yearning quality it has. 


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Played mostly acoustically with the exception of a very useful electric guitar, the Who-like B side 'Soldier Boy' is a hidden treasure that seems to come to life even more during this performance. The same can also be said for the excellent 'Girl I Once Knew', which is given more emotional power in its acoustic form, benefitting from the maturing of Meya's voice, which now has more weight behind it. If Oasis could have written something as good as 'Goodbye' in 1997 then 'Be Here Now' could have been a better album. Because Northern Uproar wrote it, the song was ignored by the majority of the music press, and the public hardly had a chance to hear it. Nearly 12 years after its release it still sounds fantastic, and remains one of the band's finest moments. 


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Although there were many things that set the band apart from Oasis, 'Living It Up' shares the same dizzy, carefree vibe as 'Roll With It', and like that other Manchester indie band, the song occasionally takes from The Beatles too, nicking brief fragments of 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand'. Even so, the Uproar still have their own musical characteristics spread all over it, as with the closing 'Breaking The Ice', another quality B side which provides one of the most addictive and infectious tunes the group have in their repetoire. This humble and enjoyable live album is an ideal opportunity for those who missed out on Britpop to discover these great songs, and also a chance for the cynics to finally learn that Northern Uproar deserve far more praise and respect. For the loyal fans however, this is simply a collection of fantastic songs played brilliantly by a band who absolutely love playing music. And what more could you ask for? 8.5


To listen to the album in full go to - http://www.nimbitmusic.com/northernuproar/#comingaroundliveandacoustic17212


You can still buy the album as a download by going HERE.

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