B.A.D. in top form on the Jimmy Fallon Show:
A Big Audio Dynamite blog.
Earlier this year when news of the return of Big Audio Dynamite started to break, I must admit to having mixed emotions. Of course, I had always hoped that there would be a reunion at some point, but in the back pages of rock ‘n’ roll history there is no shortage of stories about ill fated reunions which did little to enhance the legacies of the respective artists.
It goes without saying that I didn’t want to see one of my favourite bands suffer the same fate, and yet at the same time, I was very excited about the prospect of seeing them take to the stage again after all these years. B.A.D. were one of the first bands that I really got into. I bought their records as soon as they came out, and I have great memories of going to see them play back in the ’80’s. Would they be able to recreate that old magic after all these years? Well, there was only one way to find out.
I bought tickets for the re-union tour at the Manchester Academy on April 8th, and counted down the days by discussing all things B.A.D. with those friendly folks over at The Big Audio Dynamite Appreciation Society Facebook page. Tales of previous concert experiences, old tour merchandise, white jeans, and Stussy clothing ensued, and of course the music…the soundtrack to our youth. Memories of hunting down 12″ remixes and imported albums, and here we are again some twenty odd years later with the passion for all things B.A.D. just as strong as ever.
Thanks to youtube and the various fan forums, by the time I arrived in Manchester I had seen and heard enough from the earlier shows on the tour to convince me that the band were in fine form, and my optimism was furthered by the glowing reviews which were also appearing online. Not just from the fan sites, where you would expect such reports, but from the national press too. It was time to reignite the dynamite!
As the theme from “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” merged into the opening bars of “Medicine Show”, it really was like stepping back in time. The performances were first rate throughout, and another thing that everyone seemed to pick up on was the fact that the band themselves were obviously enjoying what they were doing. Similar reports were coming back from all of the dates on the tour, and by now I had made up my mind to catch the band in action again at the earliest possible opportunity.
As I had never seen the band play in London before, I decided to make the trip to the capital for the show at the Royal Festival Hall on July 23rd. B.A.D.’s performance at the Manchester show had converted my mate into a fully fledged B.A.D. fan, so I had a travelling companion for the weekend, and we had also arranged to meet with some of the people from the Facebook group for a few drinks before the gig…’Go ahead London’.
After an enjoyable day around the South Bank, we headed for a pub close to the venue to meet up with our fellow B.A.D. fans, and what a great bunch of people they were. There was always a great vibe around fans of the band, with everyone being friendly and helpful, both on the message boards and in person, and it’s nice to see this spirit continue into the reunion tour. After a few beers and a friendly chat our little B.A.D. posse made our way to The Royal Festival Hall for the show.
The sense of anticipation grew as we approached the venue, and after another swift drink, it was time to find our respective seats before the band took to the stage. This was an all seated venue, which some people had reservations about, but as soon as B.A.D. launched into “Medicine Show” everyone was on their feet, and apart from one notable exception, that’s the way it stayed throughout.
There is certainly a special vibe about seeing the band in London, and having been on the road since the end of March, B.A.D. are now a very finely tuned unit indeed. New member Davo compliments Mick’s guitar playing in much the same way that the late Nick Hawkins used to do in B.A.D. II. Mick beams, does Chuck Berry style ‘duck-walks’ and both his playing and singing are flawless throughout. Don takes centre stage and whips up the crowd on numbers like “A Party” and “The Battle of All Saints Road”, and then there are the incomparable talents of Leo and Greg in the engine room.
I can’t remember the set list in order, but “C’mon Every Beat box” and “Sightsee MC” were real stand outs. I’ve always loved “A Party”, and the new funky arrangement of “Just Play Music” has finally turned it into a song that works live as well as on record. I’ve been very impressed with “Rewind” on this tour too. I think it is one of the unsung highlights of B.A.D.’s back catalogue, and it has been a welcome addition to the set list.
The new song “Rob Peter, Pay Paul” seemed more polished than the earlier versions I had heard online, and as a tune it is growing with every listen. The song has echoes of “The Other 99” and is just as catchy. There was also a real surprise when Mick asked everyone to ‘sit down and put their feet up’, half way through the show, and the band treated us to the rarely played, laid back “‘Megatop Phoenix” track, “Everybody Needs a Holiday”. The song was played as a dedication to Amy Winehouse, as news of her untimely passing earlier in the day began to circulate.
A recent conversation topic on Facebook had been whether the original line up of B.A.D. used samples and link tracks in-between songs. I don’t know whether the band were reading this, but in a nod to their old traditions, snatches of Black Uhuru’s “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” and The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” were heard between songs, along with a snippet from “Hancock’s Half Hour” as Mick informed the crowd that the late, great comedian also played at the Royal Festival Hall some years ago. This put me in mind of the radio broadcast from the band’s 1988 Bradford concert, when additional samples where used to link tracks together.
The ‘big guns’ of “The Bottom Line,” “E=MC2” and “Rush” closed the show in style, with Mick being dragged into the crowd by over enthusiastic fans trying to shake his hand at the end of the show. I’ve already read reports from other fans that it was one of the best shows they have ever seen, and I am in total agreement with this. It was a truly wonderful evening.
The bigger question now is whether the band are going to stick together after their summer dates? I know they all have other commitments, but the initial signs look good. B.A.D. are currently in the U.S.A. and are due to play their new song “Rob Peter, Pay Paul” on the Jimmy Fallon show on Wednesday August 3rd. A recent post on the informative ‘If Music Could Talk’ forum tells us that the band now have four to five new songs that are currently being worked on. So a new, 21st Century B.A.D. album is beginning to look like a real possibility. I certainly hope so, and if the Legacy Edition of “No.10 Upping Street” is also issued later this year, there’s still plenty for us B.A.D. fans to look forward too.
One thing is for sure. This reunion will not be a mere footnote in the history of a once great band. It has been a resounding success, which has seen the band’s innovation and influence finally get the credit it deserves. For us fans, it has meant some great nights out, catching up with old friends, making new ones and rediscovering some great music all over again, and you know that can’t be bad.
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The return of Big Audio Dynamite
Kind credits & courtesy to the original uploaders.