Fleadh Festival, London: June 10th, 2000

concert_in_finsbury_parkSet Listing

01. Faron Young
02. Bonny
03. Appetite
04. Moving the River
05. Cruel
06. (Johnny Johnny) Goodbye Lucille No.1
07. Cowboy Dreams
08. Cars and Girls
09. When love breaks down
10. A Life of Surprises
11. Looking for Atlantis .

An audio recording of this concert exists. Reasonable but not brilliant audience recording.

VHS sourced versions of videos of three songs from “ITV at the Festivals” broadcast on 29th September 2000 from 1:05 to 2:00 a.m. (Commissioned by Anglia TV/Produced by Mission TV.) also exist.

Prefab Sprout with Paddy McAloon sporting a Karl Marx beard gave us all their yesterdays in a wave of happy nostalgia …” Nigel Williamson, The Times

“Prefab Sprout’s Paddy McAloon charmed the laid-back mid-afternoon crowd, quipping that they had wanted a helicopter to bring them in but headliners The Corrs and The Undertones had nabbed the best ones, so his stealth bomber was parked out the back. His announcement that it was his 43rd birthday last week “and not one of you sent me a card” was greeted with a chorus of “Happy Birthday To You” from the faithful, and the band responded with a warm, banter-strewn set.” NME

“Hi all, Just thought I’d chime in with a review of the London Fleadh performance since I wasn’t able to attend any of the headlining shows earlier in the year. First of all, I need to comment on just how insanely amazing it is to have the opportunity to write this review. I never thought it possible that I’d see the Sprouts live so that alone is simply phenomenal.

“Anyway, the festival itself was excellent, considering that this was my first trip to the UK and what a way to close out the trip! Paddy and Co. took the stage after an excellent set by Kirsty McColl and I have to say the first thing I did was laugh. After all the excitement and anticipation, to see Paddy with the beard and enormous aviator sunglasses — couldn’t help it. Paddy quipped that the aviators were initially intended for the helicopter they were supposed to have arrived in but the Undertones and Corrs got the nice ones, so he had to fly in via stealth bomber.

“There’s just something so contradictory about Paddy — I had this feeling throughout the entire show — he walks an unusual line between “rock star posing” and “anti-rock literacy” that just floors me. Anyway, they began with Faron Young, a natural way to get things rolling. The band sounded excellent — and they continued on with Bonny and Appetite. It became obvious that, because the audience at the festival was likely different than those at the headlining shows (many, I’m sure, did not come specifically to see the Sprouts), they were going for the nostalgia factor here by playing the intro cuts from Steve McQueen/Two Wheels Good.

“In fact, throughout the set, they would end up playing the first five cuts from that album, in addition to Moving The River. Of course, every moment was a beautiful thing — but I think my first real spine chilling moment was during When Love Breaks Down. Picture me — traveling from the States, where I have NEVER met another soul face-to-face who has even heard of Prefab Sprout, let alone a listener — and I am now surrounded by a sea of people who are singing along to every word of WLBD. A truly wonderful moment.

“Probably the only disappointing aspects came during the middle and they were completely related to set list choice — certainly no aspect of the performance itself was disappointing in the least. The choices of Cruel, Life of Surprises, and Cowboy Dreams were not my favourites — Cruel has a wonderful sentiment but the pace probably not best suited for the festival atmosphere. Life of Surprises is okay but I’m not a big fan of Protest Songs and it’s simply just not one of my favourites. And Cowboy Dreams didn’t appeal to me much — first time hearing it — but oh well, it was pleasant enough.

“But then came the big one — the set’s finale — Looking for Atlantis. Any slight feelings of disappointment at the set list choices were completely packed away — this was an UNBELIEVABLE way to end the evening. Being a drummer myself, I could not believe what I saw and heard as Mr. Neil Conti began this one — I still do not understand what he was doing throughout this entire song. (as a side note, listening to his drumming throughout the entire set reaffirmed my belief that Conti is one of the most amazing musicians on the planet — nobody makes a simple 4/4 rhythm sound so accented and driving — and his knack for knowing the most perfectly appropriate thing to play at every instance of every song is mind-blowing). But anyway, I would’ve sworn there were eight musicians instead of four during Atlantis — Paddy replacing Wendy’s opening “oooh oooh oooh’s” with chiming high notes from his Gretsch — the band sounded so full and tight and just plain perfect.

“What really killed me was Paddy’s frequent rock-star-ish “yeeeooowwwww” screams at the end — completely ridiculous but it all seemed very appropriate for some reason. Anyway, they ended the set and filtered off stage perhaps directly back to the stealth bomber? An excellent show, made my entire trip worth it, and I feel very lucky to have witnessed what the Fleadh official program described as “possibly the greatest English pop band in the last two decades”. Thanks guys!” Chris Wirtalla, zorrophonic mailing list

“As Paddy McAloon begins to resemble Roky Eriksson more and more with each appearance, it’s surprising that he keeps to the oldies but goodies here and doesn’t go off on a mind-fuck trip. But then, he knows what the folks swooning in front of him are looking for – ‘Johnny Johnny’ check, ‘Cars And Girls’ check. Honestly he can’t go wrong, dragging a couple-hugging crowd back into their teenage years to remember painful schools days, the things that might have been and how wonderful chart music used to be. If there’s one thing that doesn’t make it feel totally right, it’s a sense of a man resting on his laurels. If he could sound like this 15 years ago, why the hell ain’t he coming up with new stuff like that now. It’s a question to ponder, but one that will wait because we’re having too much of a good time right now.”

Michael Byrne.


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