Bluetones frontman faces uphill struggle at Hoxton Club show
Mat Horne’s “Session” nights at the Queen of Hoxton usually guarantee a great bill of live acts and DJs, and the trendy venue was packed last night despite the capital’s sweltering heat. In the basement, trifling concerns like potential dehydration and diminishing oxygen were put to one side for a rare solo acoustic set by Mark Morriss, frontman of erstwhile Britpop also-rans The Bluetones. He took the stage around 10pm, dressed in all black and sporting a fetching new beard.
It was an unusual booking for a worked-up Saturday night crowd, and Morriss became frequently drowned out by the bass from upstairs and the indifferent customers, who slowly filled out the room. To his credit, he pushed on with a spirited selection of songs “from the past” (Bluetones hit A New Athens) and “from the future” (world-weary opener It’s Hard To Be Good All The Time, hinting at promising new material to come); any latent cynicism was masked with a wry “thanks, kids!” halfway through.
The highlights came in the form of two covers by Morriss’ alt pop contemporaries: Teenage Fanclub’s Alcoholiday was a joyous ode to excess which seemed particularly apt given the merriment going on around him, while a set-closing take on The Shins’ Pink Bullets was a lovelorn ballad sadly lost on the bulk of the audience.
Devoted fans were few and far between, but they must have been left feeling short-changed by the misguided scheduling (not least because the gig was billed as a full Bluetones show), and the whole thing smacked of a cynical ploy to raise the cover charge. The music couldn’t be faulted though, and Morriss should be commended for delivering a melodic and heartfelt set despite numerous setbacks.
Listen to Alcoholiday here: