sat 18/11/2017

Peter Perrett, Concorde 2, Brighton review - magnificent songs scorchingly rendered | reviews, news & interviews

Peter Perrett, Concorde 2, Brighton review - magnificent songs scorchingly rendered

Peter Perrett, Concorde 2, Brighton review - magnificent songs scorchingly rendered

The one from The Only Ones returns with a vigorously engaging band set-up

Perrett enjoys a rare moment without shades

These days Peter Perrett doesn’t rely on the songs of his late Seventies/early Eighties band, The Only Ones, to hold his audience’s attention. At 65, looking and sounding healthier than he has done in years, he’s on a vital late-career creative roll. At the start of his first encore he even plays a new, unreleased song, “War Plan Red”, giving vent to fiery infuriation with global politicking, his band shadowed in ominous scarlet lighting. He may be renowned, primarily, for songs of romance and dissolution, but with lyrics such as “The so-called free world stands for evil incarnate” he clearly feels that in 2017 there’s also much else to sing about.

Perrett fronts a five-piece band consisting of his sons Jamie (guitar) and Peter Jr (bass), alongside their girlfriends Jenny Maxwell and Lauren Munisamy on backing vocals, violin and keys, with drummer Jake Woodward holding steady at the back. This is a family affair and they’re musically tight to a fault, Jamie Perrett’s lively fret-wrangling showpieces the perfect foil to his father’s stationary stage persona. Peter Perrett himself is black clad in a white shirt and Ray-ban-style shades, his hair in a classic Seventies rocker cut. His words are perfectly enunciated, that distinctive nasal voice cutting through everything. He was ever about the words.

Its starkness emphasises what an undersung master-songwriter he really is

Most of the set is drawn from Perrett’s recent album, How The West Was Won, a comeback of sorts for a man who spent chaotic decades since The Only Ones mostly mired in a dark underworld of crack and heroin. It’s a fine album and even better live. The title track is introduced with a rare and dry aside, “This song is a eulogy to a country that’s become great again.” Full of lyrical pith, the band really work its “Sweet Jane”-ish riff, and also cut loose spectacularly on “Living in My Head” with a squawling, invigorating violin vs guitar jam. The set is peppered with Perrett’s raw, self-scathing odes to his wife of many decades, Xena, and an emotive highlight is the new album’s superb “Home”. Its existential longing is simply heart-rending.  

Perrett also dips into his solo back catalogue, from the better known such as “Woke Up Sticky”, which fires thought-provoking allegories off in all directions, to the more obscure “Baby, Don’t Talk” from 1994, with its cutting couplet “You ain’t learned nothing, from the cradle to the grave”. And, yes, The Only Ones are in there too, with fine versions of “The Big Sleep” and “Flaming Torch”. Surprisingly, given the song is something of a mixed blessing as it’s the only Perrett song most people know, tonight’s encore take on “Another Girl Another Planet” is a scorcher, Jamie Perrett nailing the famously tricky guitar solo with showy aplomb.

And at the evening’s very end, Perrett pushes towards the curfew on his second encore. He closes proceedings with a band-free take on The Only Ones’ “It’s The Truth”. Its very starkness emphasises what an undersung master-songwriter he really is. Given tonight’s performance it seems his return is only gathering pace.

Overleaf: Seven minute feature about Peter Perrett on Newsnight

The set is peppered with Perrett’s raw, self-scathing odes to his wife of many decades, Xena

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters