THE WENDY JAMES BAND + SLANT – PATTERNS, BRIGHTON 30.9.21
Wendy James, the vocalist from Transvision Vamp was back in town. I never saw those guys live whilst the band enjoyed chart success in the late 1980s and early 1990s with their pop/punk sound. Transvision Vamp albums have recently been remastered and released again on vinyl. They sound great!
Wendy James is back in Brighton, after some four postponements due to the Covid 19 situation. Tonight the gig went ahead in Patterns.
She was back with her band and that “new” album, ‘Queen High Straight’. I was looking forward to this gig; it had been a long time coming. The last time we met up was in October 2019 as she and the band were support for the Psychedelic Furs. Read the Brighton & Hove News Music Team’s review of that night HERE.
Tonight saw The Wendy James Band as headliners with support from a local band SLANT who refer to themselves as “an inter-galactic powerhouse” who draw “glam-rock back out of the ether and merging it with a riot grrrl energy”. They released their debut single ‘Haircut’ last year which was followed up with the alt-pop/disco track ‘La Danse’.
Their format is guitar, bass, expressive drumming and somewhat quirky perfectly harmonious female dual vocals, which results in toe tapping energy. Catch them in Brighton at The Prince Albert on Wednesday 27th October, when they will be supporting the absolutely brilliant Irish band ‘Thumper’, who are for fans of IDLES and Fontaines D.C.. Purchase your tickets HERE.
At the front Wendy James leads The Wendy James Band through a 70 minute set. It included some new material, recent material and a few Transvision Vamp songs thrown into the mix. And what a mix!
Wendy took to the stage, her hands behind her ears so cheer could hear the loud welcome she received. That beguiling smile lit the room as she said “Hello” and the band struck up with ‘You’re So Great’ and without stopping for breath we were thrown ‘Speedball’. Fabulous stuff.
Throughout the set, Wendy would stop and chat and relate stories and events from her past. These chats were welcomed by everyone. The tales unfolded with some level of detail, warmth and humour. Andy Warhol got a mention and also some of the darker events surrounding the early Transvision Vamp days. Her attending an event where she was asked to sing – and that was really the start of her career. We were also told about the various parties that she went to. It was a fascinating and informative insight.
Wendy had stated a different set would be being performed each night she would be playing and next we had ‘You’re A Good Man, Sister’ with that almost ‘Jean-Genie’ riff running through it. Then that riff fired up and the band kicked into hyper drive with the Transvision Vamp rocker ‘I Want Your Love’. Patterns shook as people danced and sang, almost drowning out the band at one stage. I have to say the sound mix was spot on tonight. The volume was loud but comfortable and the mix desk techs did a great job. All the instruments and vocals could be clearly heard. And, thankfully, no smoke belching out.
Next up was a Bob Dylan cover of ‘Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?’. Brilliant stuff and given the Wendy James twist. She had explained earlier with her omnipresent enthusiasm. “Not only are we celebrating a return to live venues, we are celebrating my No.16 album ‘Queen High Straight’, and also a different setlist every night, from Transvision Vamp through all my albums!” So far so good! Next up ‘If Looks Could Kill’, from the Vamp archives. ‘The Impression of Normalcy’, and another newer track ‘Cancel It… I’ll See Him On Monday’.
Wendy exploded onto the British music scene in 1988 as the fearless frontwoman of chart-topping alt-rockers Transvision Vamp. When the band broke up Wendy went on to collaborate with Elvis Costello, James Williamson (Iggy & the Stooges), Lenny Kaye (The Patti Smith Group) and James Sclavunos (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds). Her band tonight were superb. I recognised some of the guys from their last visit to Brighton.
The wonderful ‘Perilous Beauty’ was next, soaked with filthy guttural guitar. Oh yes. Wendy James has still got it, and got it in style and power as her voice delivered that one. The Motown infused ‘Here Comes The Beautiful One’ caught us all out. A great song.
Time for some more older material, the sublime ‘Tell That Girl to Shut Up’ had the crowd bouncing along and joining in. A song familiar to my ears from its appearance in the “top 40” back in ’88, and from the aforementioned Transvision Vamp years. Wendy had given an insight to that song and the writer Holly Beth Vincent (Holly and The Italians).
The band left the stage, Wendy promised to be back – a guitar loop playing for the time the band were off the stage. The guys bounced back and stirred things up once more with ‘Bad Valentine’ and ‘Bitter Funny’.
Then that song that straddled the boundary between being chart-friendly and alternative all out rocker, ‘Baby I Don’t Care’ was up. This was the last song of the set, damn the band did a great job on that. Wendy after the show said how much she had enjoyed doing that one tonight, the crowd was fantastic. You could see as she romped through the song how much she was enjoying it. I put my camera aside and joined in! Damn, I love that song! Where did that time go? Wendy had her foot up on the railing and her fist punching the air. It is a wonderful way to end with such a climax. I can assure you there was much dancing, singing and hands in the air. There was a really good atmosphere in Patterns, it was full of warmth and appreciation.
Wendy seemed to have had a blast tonight. She engaged with us all. She jumps, and stomps, rocking the mic stand with all her hand, arms waving and gesturing, fingers pointing out with her very own punky pop mannerisms. I found myself singing along to many of the songs tonight, along with the pretty near capacity crowd.
After the gig, Wendy had made sure she had plenty of time to meet and greet, sell some merchandise and sign stuff and pose for a selfie or two with fans. Great job there Wendy. Wendy James is a class act. She really is worth going to see her and the band live. She wraps nostalgia, new tunes and personal memories into a candy coated wrapper delivered with gusto and professionalism.
This was a great gig witnessed by lots of people, who had come out on a filthy windy and wet night in the town. I am pretty sure as folk left heading back out into the wild wind they were all smiling and talking with pure joy about the entire set.
Little was I to know the treat that was in store.
Her latest solo 20 track album ‘Queen High Straight’ is available from her official website – More info HERE.
Wendy James Band setlist:
‘You’re So Great’
‘You’re A Good Man, Sister’
‘I Want Your Love’ (Transvision Vamp song)
‘Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?’ (Bob Dylan cover)
‘If Looks Could Kill’ (Transvision Vamp song)
‘The Impression Of Normalcy’
‘Cancel It… I’ll See Him On Monday’
‘Marlene Et Fleur’
‘You’re A Dirtbomb, Lester’
‘Here Comes The Beautiful One’
‘Tell That Girl To Shut Up’ (Transvision Vamp song)
‘Down On You’ (Transvision Vamp song)
‘Bad Valentine’ (Transvision Vamp song)
‘Bitter Funny’ (Racine song)
‘Baby I Don’t Care’ (Transvision Vamp song)
LIKE WHAT WE DO? HELP US TO DO MORE OF IT BY DONATING HERE.