Monday, March 7

Spin Doctors @ The Rescue Rooms
I relived a little bit of my childhood last night by going to see the Spin Doctors at the Rescue Rooms.

Pocket Full Of Kryptonite was the first album I ever bought back in the early 90s and it sold millions and millions before the dreaded second album Turn It Upside Down. Shortly after that, guitarist Eric Schenkman leaves. Then a third album that nobody buys. Finally singer Chris Barron lost his voice as a result of vocal cord paralysis. That was that.

Fastforward to 2002. Barron gets his voice back and the band reform, but does anybody care anymore?

The Rescue Rooms is around a third full when workmanlike Mancunian three-piece David R. Black take the stage. They're a worthy and slightly dull with indistinguishable indie-pop by numbers songs blending into each other - the only frisson on interest provided by the female bassist.

There's video cameras scattered liberally about the venue and it transpires that a tour film is being made. The band urge the crowd to come down the front and cheer loudly after each song, which they grudgingly do. Nothing more needs to be said.

This Spin Doctors have no such problems rousing the audience. Aside from the odd random old man, most people in the room seem to be an exactly the same age - mid to late 20s. The Pocket Full Of Kryptonite generation. In 1991, approaching their peak, the band played at the much larger Rock City around the corner. Many of tonight's crowd were probably there.

Opening up with What Time Is It? four middle aged men take the stage. Slightly greyer, slightly heavier and in the case of bassist Mark White - with less hair.

What follows is just over 90 minutes of sheer blissful blues rock. Tracks from Kryptonite sprinkled evenly throughout the set, mixed with tracks from their other albums and *gasp* new material.

Barron is on fine form, bantering with the crowd, high kicking and dancing around the stage, but he's modest enough to let the other three musicians take equal time in the spotlight. Much like myself, he's rocking the tramp chic look. In fact, with his greying hair and beard he resembles like Jeff Bridges from The Fisher King or Bob Geldof's younger, slightly hipper brother.

Schenkman is one of the greatest unheralded guitarists of his generation. Every song seemingly ends with a lengthy blistering solo.

White has a distinctive, louche finger-picking bass style the gels with drummer Aaron Comess, in a way only a rhythm section that has been playing together for over a decade.

Having sold several million albums, playing to a couple of hundred people in a half full club should be a demoralising experience, but the Spin Doctors just seem happy to play at all.

All the hits are trotted out of course. Two Princes, Little Miss Can't Be Wrong, Jimmy Olsen's Blues and Cleopatra's Cat receive the biggest cheers. But there are a couple of tracks that the crowd still wants to hear.

For the encore, it's time for a bit of self-indulgence of the percussion kind. The opening beat of Refrigerator Car starts up, but then goes on and on and on. It's pretty cool but a sense of relief prevails when the song kicks it. As the track segues into the lengthy Shinbone Alley, Comess is at it again and it's an epic, epic drum solo, lasting several minutes. Fast bits, slow bits, quiet bits, loud bits, parts where he seemingly stops altogether.

The last bus beckons and as the solo finally finishes and the song (possibly) draws to a close, it's time to bid farewell to the doctors of spin. "How about that?" says Barron to the crowd smiling from ear to ear as he applauds his stick wielding bandmate, but as anyone who has ever eaten too much custard knows - you really can have too much of a good thing.

Some things should be left in the past, a guilty secret. But sometimes.... sometimes... once in a while... a little nostalgia can't hurt anyone.

Unlike drum solos.