Echobelly + supports @ O2 Institute 20th May 2017



One of the challenges for a band like Echobelly is the need to overcome that weird phenomenon that people in the Sunday Supplements describe as the Zeitgeist. They could probably get by just playing a few obscure album tracks, a few 90s singles and end with King of the Kerb, and have people lap the whole thing up on the indie nostalgia circuit.


I’ve seen them in this mode, at Shiine a few months ago, but it would appear to be too easy for them and they have embarked on that most difficult of comeback projects – the dreaded NEW ALBUM! I know there have been compilations and “best ofs” but the last proper offering was in 2004.  That is where the challenge comes in. That nostalgia is based on where people were, and how they felt when Great Things, Insomniac or I Can’t Imagine the World Without Me were propelling Echobelly up the charts in the middle of the Brit Pop decade.


Given that the majority of the audience tonight were grey enough to be around back then, how does a band cope with that? Do they throw away the past and push for the here and now, or start apologising for the new tunes as some bands do?

There will be no such worries for the two supports on show tonight. The combination of The Jack Fletcher Band, preceded by Save State, gave us a one stop view of a different sort of dilemma.

Save State

Kidderminster’s Save State really gave it loads in terms of effort in what was actually a strangely cold venue; cold that is in terms of the thermal properties of the place. It’s not often that the exertions of a singer make his glasses steam up, but the quartet soldiered on in the face of muddy sound and an indifferent audience. Their first tunes were reminiscent of 90s North Eastern US sound but they rapidly descended into standard 21st Century Rock. For all that I enjoyed their huge efforts and their rough around the edges approach.

The Jack Fletcher Band

The Jack Fletcher Band were a different proposition. These guys seem just weaned off a diet of The Enemy, with a generous helping of Oasis and a side salad of Stereophonics. All Tom Clarke swagger they were as polished as Save State were rough. The songs were direct and familiar with those influences being at the forefront, but delivered with a studied disinterest. The only break in their cool was when they glanced at their entourage who were giving it large at the side of the pit. Professional to a T this was the only time the mask slipped. Nice coats as well guys.

The Jack Fletcher BandThe Jack Fletcher Band

Who would I rather be? Or who would I like to see again? If I could have a combination of the effort and sheer bloody-mindedness of Save State with the poise and professionalism of The Jack Fletcher band then we would have something special to champion on As it is, I suspect the Wolverhampton quartet will have more than a decent purchase on the slippery slope.


Sonya Madan is something of a phenomenon as far as I am concerned. In more than two decades she has kept this place in some peoples’ minds (and hearts) as a relatively rare example of a female front person with real presence and charm, as well as the obvious ability to sing; and write songs, and keep an audience in check; and give the road manager a good earful when the fold-back isn’t working. There are other people in the band but for a man of tender years Sonya is the only thing of interest on stage. It was so in the 90s; and it is now.. One smile and one line from a song and that’s that. We’ve all become old and decrepit but she seems fairly much the same


One thing I liked about the set list tonight was that fact that Echobelly themselves were interested in a life after 1996. The new songs were excellent sat well with the familiar tunes. From the new album Anarchy & Alchemy the single Hey Hey Hey and the internet release Molotov stood out, but the most surprising tune was A Map Is Not A Territory: sixteen years old, but in topic and subject matter it could have been written yesterday. Maybe it shows how we have stagnated since those heady days of New Labour and Brit Pop. Perhaps that’s why indie nostalgia is such a money spinner these days.


Certainly a lot here tonight were just waiting for the likes of Great Things, Car Fiction or Dark Therapy. They got them of course and the songs were excellent but I’m more than happy to say that a song like If The Dogs Don’t Get You, My Sisters Will, is enough to show me at least, that there is a lot more to come from Echobelly.

Words: Ian Gelling

Photographs: Stephanie Colledge

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