Y2K is trending… I never thought I would see the day trackies and butterfly clips would once again grace our shopping baskets but here we are.
This of course is spoken from someone who has predominantly dressed like Kate Bush sporting big hair, 80’s batwing sequins and gold lame for most of my adult life…
It comes as no surprise then that we are seeing a resurgence of bands who reached their heyday mid 90’s into the early 2000’s.
Tonight’s crowd are testament to this rhetoric as we spoke to fans from various generations; millennials, Gen Z and X are all gathered here under the beautifully painted ceilings of Summerhall.
Some have travelled from all over Scotland to attend tonight’s show and have jostled their way front and centre to hear Chris Helme perform a one man acoustic come comedy special here tonight.
If it’s nostalgia they’re after then they’ve certainly come to the right place.
Helme arrives on stage promptly just before 9pm, he’s clearly pleased at the crowd amassed before him, as a wide beam grin spreads across his face as he gives his audience an enthusiastic “Y’allright Edinburgh?” in his thick Yorkshire accent.
The crowd erupt in applause.
So what brought Helme to Summerhall this evening? It’s been exactly 25 years since his former band The Seahorses released their popular debut (and sadly only) album titled, “Do it Yourself”
Since The Seahorses, Helme has went on to contribute to various music projects – most notably and one of our firm favourites The Yards (we used to play The Devil is Alive and Well and in DC in most of our DJ sets of yesteryear ).
Yet, it seems sadly that people still refer to Helme as ‘the singer in John Squires post Stone Roses band’. But – that is not who he is tonight.
Tonight it would seem is more of an intimate audience with Helme. Yes, there’s plenty of endearing jokes about John Squire, yes there’s recollections of Oasis’s famous gig at Knebworth and yes Helme is instantly disarming with plenty of silly tales of his own folly.
But ultimately it’s the music that speakers volumes a tried and tested album that has stood the test of time and proven to be a truly magical experience when stripped back to one man and his guitar.
‘John’s pal found me outside of Woolies, busking and he asked me if I would go and audition for his pals band, I wore what I thought was my coolest outfit at the time bootcut jeans and a polo neck… But I almost never got in because my neck was too fat…”
This is the kind of esoteric yet beautiful stories that Helme regales to the crowd before launching into set opener, “I Want You to Know”. At the end of which he’s laughing saying “I bet you thought I was going to play the album in order? But as we all know Blinded by the Sun is the first track on the album and then you would all piss off back home”
It’s this sardonic wit that keeps the audience chuckling away throughout the night.
“Suicide Drive” is next much to the audience’s delight followed by “The Boy in the Picture” which is accompanied by a hilarious memory of…
“John went home to write some lyrics and after seeing him and his brother on two donkeys in an old photograph he wrote the words to this song. He came in in with a4 piece of paper the only word I noticed was strap on. I thought this won’t be a single will it?”
“Hello” was inspired by his ex girlfriend at the aforementioned Knebworth gig. “Love Me and Leave Me” has everyone chanting along in time with Helme and his solitary guitar.
“Love is the Law” illustrates perfectly just why Squire was known for curating a perfect riff.
“Love is Eggshaped” gets massive audience approval – the set is scattered with lots of jovial banter between the crowed and Helme.
Set closer “Blinded by the Sun” comes with its own anecdote about bumping into his girlfriends coffee table but ultimately gets the biggest singalong of the evening.
The Seahorses may have met their demise in their infancy, but the album is imbued with all the nuances that made Brit Rock so appealing in the first place. You can hear echos of Lennon, The Hollies and even Oasis – who Helme influenced too.
At the end of the evening Helme is happily taking photographs and signing albums with the most enthusiastic of fans.
Helme will continue touring throughout much of the year, we recommend catching him when he rolls into town next.
Words: Angela Canavan
Pictures: Angela Canavan