Marseille – The Railway, Bolton, July 24th 2011

The Railway, Bolton
Review by Ian Parry

After Marseille singer Nige Roberts described it as “An arse of a week”, “one of the worst weeks in recent memory” you’d be forgiven for not expecting too much from the band at their Friday night gig at the Railway Venue in Bolton.
The circumstance leading up to this arse of a week started when the WN1 club in Wigan cancelled Marseille’s gig, allegedly because there were not enough advance ticket sales. The show was quickly rearranged to the Railway and thanks to the power of the internet and Facebook the venue was packed – with not a single ticket sold in advance. But that was just the start. Flight problems in America meant that Guitarist Andy Charters was stranded nearly four thousand miles away.  Two day before the gig Bass player Lee was taken ill and unable to play.  With 24 hours notice Phil Ireland from Exit State was given a DVD of a Marseille show with the instruction “learn that”.
That drummer Ace Finchum has played only a handful of gigs with the band and suddenly found all of his rhythm partners missing was just a minor issue at this point. Even when the show started Ace’s kit and pedals seemed not to be anchored fully and started to slide across the stage.  Mind you I think I’d try to move if I was being hit that hard.
But, soaring on the wings of adversity as they say, the band tore into the opening blast of “Wanna Get High” and “Rock You Tonight” determined to do just that. Not so much relief to actually make the show happen, but definitely a release of the frustration that had built up to that point. Having had to play as a four piece last year when Andy got caught up in the volcanic ash scare, Neil knew what was required and took great delight in telling us, tongue in cheek (several times) how he was having to do the work of two men. Ace pounded away at the back providing his own style and flair to the songs.  Stand in bassist Phil though was exceptional throughout. Delivering a note perfect performance, backing vocals along with more than his share of posing across the stage you could never have guessed this was his first performance with the band.
A mixture of old songs and new from last year’s “Unfinished Business” album were delivered in style, leading up to the now traditional set closer of “Some Like It Hot” and encore “French Way”.  Whether it was the anticipation of actually getting the show going or the release of the week’s frustrations, this turned into one of those magic performances where the band played like their lives depended on it and you could see enjoyed every minute, as did the audience.  A triumph of a performance against the odds. Unfortunately a few fans had missed the news and turned up in Wigan to find the venue closed. Sorry guys, but you missed an absolute cracker.