As far as I can recall, The Woodentops last appeared in Brighton on 29th August 2015 at the Concorde 2 as part of ‘At The Edge Of Sea’ mini-fest. I can’t honestly recall them playing live in Brighton prior to that, but surely they must have done as they formed (in south London) way back in 1983.
So it is well worth you purchasing your tickets for this rare appearance! Grab them HERE or from your usual ticketing agent.
The initial line-up was Rolo McGinty formerly of The Wild Swans and The Jazz Butcher on vocals and guitar, Simon Mawby (guitar), Alice Thompson (keyboards), Frank DeFreitas (bass guitar), and Benny Staples replacing Paul Hookham (drums).
I can first remember hearing The Woodentops on the mighty John Peel show back in the mid 1980’s. The band recorded three sessions for him, they were as follows:
On 8th September 1984, when Rolo McGinty (vocals), Simon Mawby (guitar), Paul Holliday (drums), Fraser Cheney (bass) and Alice Goodhead (keyboards) performed ‘Get It On’, ‘Well Well’, ‘Everything Breaks’, ‘The Last Time’.
On 27th August 1985, when Rolo McGinty (vocals), Simon Mawby (guitar), Alice Thompson (keyboards), Benny Staples (drums) and Frank De Freitas (bass) performed ‘It Will Come’, ‘Plenty’, ‘So Good Today’, ‘Plutonium Rock (Godzilla)’.
On 30th March 1986, when the same lineup as their 1985 session performed ‘Give It Time’, ‘Move Me’, ‘Special Friend’, ‘Have You Seen The Lights’.
After a debut single, ‘Plenty’ on Food Records in 1984, which received a glowing review from Morrissey in Melody Maker, they signed to the independent label Rough Trade Records, releasing a series of singles in 1985 and their debut album, ‘Giant’, in 1986. Generally well received by critics, the album’s sound was characterised by acoustic guitars, but also featured accordion, marimba, strings, and trumpet sounds. The album reached No.35 on the UK Albums Chart and a single from the album, ‘Good Thing’, reached No.7 on the UK Indie Chart.
The band then became more experimental and frenetic when playing live, using more electronic sounds. This first became apparent as documented on the live album ‘Live Hypno Beat‘ (1987), which was recorded in Los Angeles in 1986. The band also started to become more ‘raw’ and unpredictable live, becoming one of the most exciting independent groups from the UK, while gaining an early hit on the burgeoning club scene in Ibiza with ‘Why’.
In 1987, Thompson left to be replaced by Anne Stephenson of The Communards.
The Woodentops continued to play live, touring the world until 1992. They returned to live performances in September 2006 and, in October 2009, they performed in a special concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s South Bank.
From 1983 until now, The Woodentops music has remained individual and instantly recognisable. Most of the artwork is by one designer, Panni Bharti. Cherry Red Records have rereleased the studio albums available around the world. The singles are now rarities. There are 3 official albums and 8 singles.
The current lineup consists of Rolo McGinty (vocals/guitar), Simon Mawby (guitar), Aine O’Keeffe (keyboards), Frank de Freitas (bass guitar) and Paul Ashby (drums)
For more information on the band, visit woodentopsmusic.com
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