When Senseless Things announced they were going to play a one-off gig, their only one as a four-piece since 1995, it felt like the colour and the fun had come back into the world. And whilst we can’t live on nostalgia, it’s done no harm for us forty-somethings to be reminded of the sunny days of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Senseless Things weren’t always given their due and instead got lumped with other unwashed grubbies who had none of their depth or sensitivity. But Lamacq got them. As live was always their medium, this was going to be quite a show.
The warm-up gig at the New Adelphi Club in Hull last weekend prepared none of us for it. Here on their home turf of West London, Senseless Things rule. The set is significantly longer than anything they performed back in the day and they are match fit. They need to be because, boy, do they belt it along. Cass Browne keeps up the momentum, mischievously speeding up the intro to The Slits’ ‘Shoplifting’ so that no one can join.
Most of the set is early stuff from Postcard CV and singles from across their career but it is also littered with ridiculously strong b-sides like ‘Tangled Lines’ and ‘16 18 21’. The audience is predominantly men but there are a few women paying homage to Jamie Hewlett by having hair of many shades. Crowdsurfing, however, is indulged in by all. By the time we get to ‘Ponyboy’, the fifth song in, someone is upside down, arse at head height, legs aloft. During ‘Can’t Do Anything’, a sneaker lands at Mark Keds’s feet which a roadie claims triumphantly.
‘Keepsake’, is the epitome of Senseless Things sensitivity. Keds’s vocal practically aches on this number. Meanwhile, ‘Homophobic Asshole’ is as relevant today as ever. Senseless Things give an aggressive rendition and, unsurprisingly, one of the band confesses to being ‘a bit knackered’ after it. The new release ‘Lost Honey’ stands up to the others and is as short and sweet as its name. The whole performance is backed by some seriously stunning animated Senseless Things artwork and Morgan Nicholls’s hilarious home-video footage.
They were never going to escape without doing ‘Too Much Kissing’ and this is reserved for the final song of the evening. Keds invites everyone up on stage and there are a few takers, most are hampered by tight security and a gap between the stage and the crowd. Instead of throwing themselves back off or barrelling the band, the successful few take selfies.
Senseless Things weigh the same but it’s like they’ve redistributed it – some members gaining a little and others losing it. The hair quotient remains impressive, especially Ben’s. What has changed is the performance. They were always brilliant live, partly because they were charming, shambolic and energetic. At Shepherd’s Bush Empire, they totally wrest control of their artistic heritage. Their sound is powerful and polished. They are more than a match for this venue.