SECRET AFFAIR + THE VAPORS + THE CHORDS UK + SQUIRE + BLOCK 33 – ST. PETER’S CHURCH, BRIGHTON 27.8.22
A Bank Holiday weekend in Brighton and ‘This Is The Modern World’ exhibition in the city, it was only right and fitting that there was an all-day mod event. The line-up for “We Are The Mods” featured bands from the late 1970’s mod revival Secret Affair, The Vapors, The Chords UK, and Squire and a new mod band Block 33.
The opening band was the new mods on the block, Block 33. The four-piece band had the mod look with their sharp suits down to a tee. Their sound also harked back to the mod heyday of the 1960’s. Their setlist took songs from their debut album released in 2002 ‘6:36 To Liverpool Street’. The songs actually came before the band, being written by Danial Dobson while commuting to work, two years before Block 33 formed. There was also material from their second album ‘The Day The World Stood Still’.
Although I missed the start of Block 33’s set (Brighton vs Leeds United is my excuse), from what I saw, Block 33 did a very good job of opening proceedings. A tight band with a good guitar sound.
They’re going on tour soon, but you’ll have to travel to Southampton or London to see them. No doubt Block 33 will be back in Brighton for future mod events on Bank Holidays.
Block 33 are:
Daniel Dodson – lead vocal, rhythm guitar
Andy Manning – lead guitar, backing vocals
Stephen ‘Keeno’ Gardner – bass guitar, backing vocals,
Jamie Moore – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Block 33 setlist:
(Intro) ‘Battle Cry’
‘When It Comes Around’
‘Hit The Ground’
‘Broken By Design’
‘(These Are) The Good Old Days’
‘Eye Of The Hurricane’
‘Better Tell The Devil’
After the new mods of Block 33, next up was one of the earliest mod revival bands of the late 70’s, Squire. The host for the evening, Eddie Piller, mentioned he’d first seen them 43 years ago. If that wasn’t enough to include them in this Jam and Style Council event, the band members went to school with Paul Weller in Woking.
Squire released 5 albums before they disbanded and songwriter Anthony Meynell relocated to California. In recent years Meynell has dusted off the Squire name for live appearances in the UK and Europe.
Squires are a three-piece band, fronted by songwriter/guitarist Anthony Meynell, his brother Kevin Meynell on drums and Jon Bicknell on bass. They preferred the jeans and t-shirt (Fred Perry obviously) look rather than the sharp suits.
Squire produced a decent set with their 60’s sound. It wasn’t just the sound that was nostalgic; there were references in the lyrics to the mod heyday such as the Kings Road, and looking back to former times like growing up in New Malden in ‘The Place I Used to Live’.
Anthony Meynell – vocals and guitar
Jon Bicknell – bass
Kevin Meynell – drums
‘Get Ready To Go’
‘The Young Idea’
‘Does Stephanie Know’
‘The Face Of Youth Today’
‘Girl On A Train’
‘Every Trick (In The Book Of Love)’
‘My Mind Goes Round In Circles’
‘B-A-B-Y Baby Love’
‘It’s A Mod Mod World’
‘The Place I Used To Live’
‘Stop That Girl’
‘ I Don’t Get Satisfaction’
‘Has Our Love Gone Bad’
‘Walking Down The King’s Road’
I’d already seen The Chords UK’s lead singer, Chris Pope, perform a solo acoustic set supporting ‘From The Jam’ a few days ago as part of the ‘This Is The Modern World’ events – Read the review HERE. Saturday night saw him return with his band, The Chords UK.
The Chords were another band from the 1970s mod revival, who re-formed for a UK tour during 2010 and have been playing live since.
Coming on stage around 7pm, the crowd numbers were somewhat larger than for the first two bands, which helped. The volume seemed to have been turned up significantly for The Chords UK set, (a possible consequence of which I’ll come back to later). Chris Pope was much more animated and engaged with the audience, far more than any of the other lead members of the other bands. The Chords UK set also had more variety in terms of tempo and a punkier sound, which helped.
There were many people calling for an encore by The Chords UK. Unfortunately, with each band having a 45-minute set time, this wasn’t possible.
During their set there was intervention from above. Small parts of the ceiling fell between the stage and the audience, where the photographers were. This may have been because the volume had been increased, or being in a church, somebody above took exception to the swear words between songs. Fortunately, nobody was hit by the falling fragments, and the show went on uninterrupted.
Why this couldn’t have happened the previous Saturday, when reviewing The Style Councillors. ‘Ceilings Come Tumbling Down’ would have been an easy choice of review headline. Oh well.
I thought that The Chords UK were the best of the 5 bands performing at ‘We Are The Mods’ all-dayer.
The Chords UK are:
Chris Pope – vocals and guitar
Mic Stoner – bass
Kenny Cooper – drums
Sandy Michie – lead guitar
The Chords UK setlist:
‘Listen To The Radio’
‘In My Street’
‘Now It’s Gone’
‘Hey Kids! Come The Revolution’
‘So Far Away’
‘Twenty First Century Girl’
‘The British Way Of Life’
Known for their big hit, ‘Turning Japanese’ The Vapors were next to take to the St Peter’s Church stage.
The Vapors were discovered playing in a pub by Bruce Foxton, who went on to manage the band. They reformed in October 2016. Another 1970’s band, but not the original line up. I was told that the lead singer’s son was the guitarist.
Their overall performance was somewhat incoherent in my opinion. I’m not sure if it was the overall poor sound quality in front of the stage, but it was difficult to make out the lyrics at times.
The young guitarist seemed to be trying too hard and even upstaging his other band members, with cliché rock guitarist posturing and mimicking Bruce Foxton’s leaping in the air while playing. While I may not have enjoyed their set as much as I’d expected, their drummer certainly did. I’ve never seen anybody smile so much during a performance.
The Vapors line up:
David Fenton – guitar and vocals
Steve Smith – bass and vocals
Michael Bowes – drums
Dan Fenton – guitar and vocals.
The Vapors setlist:
‘Waiting For The Weekend’
‘News At Ten’
‘Letter From Hiro’
Saturday night’s headliners were Secret Affair. Formed in 1978, the group was seen as one of the shining stars of the mod revival movement of the late ’70s. They received their most important early exposure by supporting The Jam on tour. After disbanding in 1982, with band members going their separate ways, they reformed in 2002.
The main members of the band Ian Page on vocals and David Cairns on guitars were joined on stage on Saturday by touring band members playing bass, drums, keyboards and saxophone. Their sound had a slightly more 1950’s rock-n-roll feel than the other bands.
For me there were too many instrumental breaks in the songs, and the lead singer of Secret Affair looked disengaged when not singing and disappearing to the back of the stage. Although when Ian Page was singing, he did give it his all.
The audience reaction to Secret Affair was mixed. While there were many enthusiastic dancers in the crowd, a few did make an early exit. The printed setlist did show ‘I’m Not Free’ as an encore, but Secret Affair didn’t return to the stage to play it. They’d played longer than their allotted time, but it was still 20 minutes to the curfew on the running order.
Secret Affair are:
Ian Page – vocals
David Cairns – guitars
Russ Baxter – drums
Ed Pearson – bass
Stevie Watts – Hammond organ
John O’Neill – saxophone
Secret Affair setlist:
‘Going To A Go-Go’
‘One Day In Your Life’
‘Live For Today’
‘All The Rage’
‘Life’s A Movie’
‘Lost In The Night’
‘Do I Love You’
‘Sound Of Confusion’
‘Time For Action’
‘Let Your Heart Dance’
I was looking forward to hearing songs like ‘Turning Japanese’ by The Vapor’s and ‘Time for Action’ by Secret Affair played live. For me they just didn’t deliver on the night.
As at other events at St Peter’s Church as part of The Jam/Style Council exhibition, the sound quality wasn’t good. That said all five bands sounded very similar, and more variety both between bands and in their individual sets would’ve helped.
While not one for me, it certainly hit the right note with most of the crowd. The mods in their sharp suits or Fred Perry polo shirts loved the “We Are The Mods” all-dayer, enthusiastically singing and dancing to the sounds of the 1970’s mod revival, plus meeting and chatting to the band members between sets.