12th March 2015
Forty Tenth Promotions presents
Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls
By Keith Jobey
Tonight saw Andy Tuck’s Forty Tenth Promotions present Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls of The Wonder Stuff in what seems to be becoming an annual event for the Musician (they were last here April 1st 2014 and before that May 19th 2013). I don’t normally go for the band member plays old band songs routine, but the Wonder Stuff ended a period of musical oblivion for me in late 1989 when I first heard HUP. So I owe Miles one.
The Wonder Stuff formed in 1986 in the West Midlands and their debut album Eight Legged Groove Machine came out in August 1988. This was followed by second album HUP in October 1989 and Never Loved Elvis in June 1991. The band split in June 1994 but reformed in 2000. Following some line-up changes a new Wonder Stuff album Escape From Rubbish Island was released in September 2004 and then March 2005 saw the introduction of violinist Erica Nockalls. The band’s last studio album Oh No It’s The Wonder Stuff was released in December 2012. In between The Wonder Stuff work, Miles and Erica have toured as an acoustic duo and released material. Erica also has her own band Erica Nockalls or EN.
The crowd are there from the start and are made up of a lot of Wonder Stuff fans from what I can discern. It’s a partly seated event with standing in the back half of the room. And the seats are filling up long before the support act is due on.
Meri Everitt, a Wonder Stuff fan herself, is the only support on the bill tonight. Having recently returned from a trip to Georgia, USA, were we going to see any influences creeping in? Not yet, but we did get the first airing of a new song she wrote while out there, Little Lamb. Her strong set is dominated with songs usually heard via her band, Flying Kangaroo Alliance. So when she asked for requests for a last song I suggested Every Car, one of my favourites from her solo album Wanted. Playing to a crowd that had previously not heard of her, she makes a strong enough impression on them to sell a few CDs at the merch. stall after the show.
Miles and Erica have that star quality. Their presence in the room can’t be ignored. Miles, smartly dressed and with his trademark long curly hair, the elegant Erica, looking delightful in a white tutu.
We get a good smattering of Wonder Stuff work covering the years, my particular favourites being CircleSquare, Welcome To The Cheapseats, Golden Green, Ruby Horse and Cartoon Boyfriend. The latter we’re told is a recent addition because Erica never liked it, but now she does so they can play it. Most songs involve a bit of a tale, and if they don’t there is usually a story about something else inserted.
Occasionally Miles says ‘do you remember last year I told you…’ to which the crowd generally confirm, showing that most of them were here then. It feels like Miles and Erica are old friends that visit every now and again, and it’s ok to come along if you haven’t yet joined the party. It’s a very warm and friendly atmosphere.
The sound is great, and Erica’s violin playing is sublime. I’m amazed at how good the overall sound is from just the two of them. The one and a half hour set sails past and by the end the crowd are singing along.
They even put in a good shift at the merch. desk at the end. Happily signing things, having photos taken with fans, Miles telling even more stories, listening to fans tales of the times they’ve seen the Wonder Stuff and never once looking as if it’s a chore. They are genuinely happy doing this and it’s really nice to see. Again, that we’re all friends atmosphere prevails.
Thank you to Andy for putting it together and when you see this gig next year on the calendar I recommend you get yourself a ticket and treat yourself to a great night of entertainment with friends.