My SmartCookieSam blog is all about my love of baking and cooking but every now and again I love to write about something else I love or is a big part of my life. Although it was more than three weeks ago now as I type, I’m still on a high and buzzing from that Friday night in Leeds.
What caused me to get all hyped up and excited? Well, those of you who know me really well know that I have been a huge fan of the Scottish band Wet Wet Wet ever since their first single “Wishing I Was Lucky” was released back in April 1987. Their fabulous debut album “Popped In Souled Out” was played constantly at home, on my Walkman on long train journeys and even on the car stereo going on a family holiday to France. That tape wore out and got replaced by a CD eventually. Scary to think that at the time I was nearly 15. Where have the last 30 years gone?
Ever since then I have grown up into a forty-something wife and mum of two teens with a very busy life but Wet Wet Wet and their music have always been there throughout that time. Of course I listen to different music. I play music or have the radio on at home and in my car, but it’s always Wet Wet Wet I go back to. So when the Wets announced a new tour for February and March 2016, there was absolutely nothing that would stop me from going to see my favourite band play in Leeds and also in Newcastle. I have seen the band several times before as well as seeing bass player Graeme Clark play solo shows so we all knew we were in for a treat.
This time the band were celebrating a special anniversary. It was the 20th Anniversary of the release of “Picture This”, their multi million selling album. I just couldn’t believe Picture This was 20 years old, I remember the day I bought it. I was a newly qualified teacher and there were several of us on the school staff who had the CD. I recall playing “Picture This” at full blast in the school corridor outside my classroom so everyone could hear it on our school INSET day. We turned it off when the head came along though as she would have thought we weren’t doing any work, we were meant to be in our classrooms getting them ready for the summer term! “Picture This” and it’s follow up album “Ten” then became my daughter’s womb music as well as my music of choice I took into hospital for her birth. I used to play the CDs to her and I’m sure that is why my daughter is relaxed and laid back. She went off to sleep with the sounds of “Somewhere Somehow” playing in the background if she was ever downstairs lying in her pram.
Anyway enough of my waffle, this is meant to be a review of the Leeds show that Wet Wet Wet played in March 2016 at the First Direct Arena. Over the past couple of years I’ve made friends with some lovely people who I have met and kept in touch with at Wet Wet Wet gigs. We now go together to the gigs and affectionately call it our #wetsroadtrip as I usually am the one doing the driving. So it was on an extremely cold and wet wet wet day we were stood outside Leeds Arena. The weather was bitterly cold and I began to wish I had worn more layers than just my new grey and pink “I love Wet Wet Wet” t-shirt underneath my coat.
Once in the arena we headed off to the merchandise stand. Lots of lovely treats mainly aimed at my age group and gender including some very bright purple pyjamas which I just HAD to have! Later on when I put them on at home, my husband and kids laughed their heads off at them!
There were two support acts who came on before the Wets. We were very impressed with Ben McKelvey and his band but I personally wasn’t so much with Markus Feehily. I wasn’t really a Westlife fan back in the day and as he mainly sang ballads I felt that the songs needed to be a bit more upbeat to get the party started. Not that we needed to get the party started knowing what was to come! No one was stood up clapping and dancing at Leeds, which wasn’t the case for Blue who were the Wets’ support band on their last arena tour in 2013. Perhaps I am being unfair, though and just need to listen to his music again.
Suddenly the long wait was over and out came Wet Wet Wet to lots of screaming and cheering. They opened the show with one of their upbeat popular numbers East Of The River, followed by their classic hits Wishing I Was Lucky and Sweet Surrender. A memorable highlight was of Marti Pellow sitting down near the front of the stage to sing a medley of Goodnight Girl, Angeleyes, Temptation and With A Little Help From My Friends. The audience loved joining in parts of the songs, we could have carried on all night singing along but a funny moment came when we were reminded of a certain four letter word in Temptation! Us Leeds folk were happy to scream the aforementioned word out but I’m glad my mum wasn’t stood next to me! She used to go mad if me or my brother swore when we were growing up! Marti continued to move around the stage while flashing that trademark smile of his proving that he still has enormous stage presence.
Being “The Big Picture Tour” we were treated to other favourite tracks from Picture This, my personal all time favourite “Somewhere, Somehow” as well as the hit singles “Julia Says” and “Don’t Want To Forgive Me Now”, the haunting “Morning” and “She’s All On My Mind” which was accompanied by a big screen back drop of photos/ selfies that Wets fans were invited to post on Twitter. I got a shock when I saw myself on the screen and screamed!
We also got to hear a brand new song called Love Wars, which had been recorded last summer in the South of France. It was very catchy and everyone was soon clapping and moving along in time to the music. Lots of us are really looking forward to seeing it released along with some other material in the future!
Of course it isn’t just Marti who is Wet Wet Wet, the rest of the band are what makes the Wets the special band that they are, they slot together like a jigsaw puzzle. Tommy, Neil and Graeme each bring their unique personal talent to the band. I also loved the acoustic set which Marti, Graeme Clark and Graeme Duffin performed. First they played a beautiful rendition of Roll ‘Um Easy which came with a hilarious anecdote about Graeme and Marti being filmed in a rowing boat on Loch Lomond for a documentary and how they felt rough as they had hangovers! I’ve seen this documentary and I couldn’t tell they looked rough, I was just amazed how they managed to get in a boat in the middle of a loch without falling in, let alone singing and playing a guitar! This was followed by the wonderful Gypsy Girl from the Picture This album with audience la-la-ing along in the right places and finished off with John Martyn’s “May You Never”, a beautiful song which I haven’t heard the Wets sing for a while.
We were then back to the upbeat numbers. Sweet Little Mystery had everyone up and dancing as well as singing along with I Can Give You Everything from the Popped In Souled Out album. I danced and sang my way through the whole show. Probably singing out of tune and looking like a complete idiot but I was enjoying myself Along with all my friends around me, we didn’t want the show to end because it was so brilliant.
Then to an encore of Lip Service which was a perfect song to end on a high followed by the Wets’ biggest hit, Love Is All Around. They really proved that love indeed was all around, There is still much love for the band nearly 30 years after their first record was released and hopefully in many more years to come.
All good things have to come to an end as they say and we left the concert on a high. We didn’t want to go home straightaway so we nipped over the road for a drink. I was still buzzing and couldn’t wait for the following Friday to do it all again at Newcastle! What a fantastic show which showed that Wet Wet Wet have still got what it takes after 30 years.
Many thanks to my friend Dot who very kindly let me use some of of her photos for the review. She always takes beautiful pictures, mine always look blurred and they could be of anyone, never mind Wet Wet Wet!