I don’t recall when I first saw Echobelly but I’m guessing it was around 1994. I recall seeing them playing festivals and small (but gradually larger) venues and I was lucky enough once to see them play in Los Angeles. All of which leads me to tonight, where I see this ‘further comeback’ show at the Islington Academy. I’m filled with trepidation because, although having seen them play The Scala in 2015, tonight is the final night of the tour for recently released album Anarchy and Alchemy, and I don’t yet know whether this album will allow the band to continue to play the type of sets I recall from my youth (ok – my 30s); sets that were raucous, lively and sweaty.
I needn’t have worried.
Tonight’s set is a fun-filled journey through youthful nostalgia and reinvigorated currency. The original two members, guitarist Glenn Johansson and singer Sonya Madan, are still the perfect chemical balance onstage; Sonya continuing to saunter around the stage, spreading uber-coolness and huge smiles – Glenn content with a secondary role, directing and engineering the performance from behind his guitar.
I’ll be honest and say that I still miss the long-since departed from the band, Debbie Smith, but then she always was in a league of her own when it came to rock chic and axe-wielding.
Tonight is all about the mixture of old and new and the audience are, myself included, transported back to the ’90s and the hey-day of Britpop. We try to get the mosh pit going (but our bellies don’t always keep up) and as we go to sweep our floppy hair back out of our eyes, all we really do is further polish our heads.
Sonya on the other hand doesn’t seem to have aged more than a few weeks and Glenn had no hair back then anyway. It is a harsh illustration of the contrast between change and consistency.
It’s left to all of us, together, to ensure that this performance continues to inject and infect enthusiasm, grit, harmony and happiness. The new songs fit seamlessly with the classics, the renewed membership of the band gels as well as previous versions did, and stumbling out into a warm summer’s evening, I’m left to reminisce and wonder what happened to the rest of the onstage Britpop generation.
While some remain many have fallen; some have been resurrected and some refuse to be reborn. Would that they all had Echobelly’s longevity, power and consistent ability. Reliving 1994 wouldn’t be so bad, it seems.
You can find out more about Echobelly on their website here and view more images from the night below.