Tuesday night at the Shepherd's Bush Empire saw what was billed as The Bluetones' final ever performance. I thought at first that I had missed my opportunity to see the band but luckily a new final date had been added for the 27th to top the tour. In a bit of a last minute panic, I of course HAD to get a ticket or two, having seen the 'tones play 3 or 4 times before over their 17 year career and never been let down.
The impending end of the band was announced to cries of dismay back in March:
"After 17 years of touring and 6 studio albums, The Bluetones have decided that this Autumn’s tour will be our last. We will be playing a career spanning set of songs as a way to say thank you to our loyal supporters and hopefully signing off with a bit of a bang"
True to form, and as expected for a 'final' gig, the venue was packed to the rafters with fans both old and new - the numbers there, to be honest, were quite a surprise to me, as I'd only previously seen them at smaller venues. The sound however was great, and even from near the back (where old farts like me hang out) the experience was superbly enjoyable for myself and comrade/co-fan 'Doctor Steel'.
Things did however take a little while to warm up to the event, the crowd and band suddenly clicking into sync for the 2006 single Autophilia (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Car) and arms were up in the air from that point onwards. As promised, all the hits were in there. Bluetonic, Slight Return (see rather dodgy mobile footage below) and Solomon Bites The Worm nostalgically replayed as the soundtrack to my life of 15 years ago.
Interspersed of course were a few more recent from A New Athens and the preceding eponymous album such as Surrendered (see below for decent footage) and the last single Golden Soul. If... provided the truly epic moment for the end of the first encore and my two personal faves Never Going Nowhere and Slack Jaw spanned the first interval of calling the guys back on stage.
The night ended on Emily's Pine and appropriately and finally; A Parting Gesture. Did I shed a tear? .... More than likely, but still absolutely with a huge cheesy grin on my face, a sentiment evidently shared by a few hundred other fans at the Empire. Farewell Bluetones, we shall all miss you and your ability to write and play some crackingly wonderfully crafted songs that I'm sure people will be playing and discovering anew for a long while yet.