BOGOF! The Boo Radleys and Cud, O2 Academy, Islington - 4th November 2023
Updated: Nov 7
There's a current trend for bands from the 90s to play co-headline tours and it's bloody marvellous. Ride and The Charlatans are doing this for the second time in the US soon (UK shows please!). Suede and Manic Street Preachers are co-headining in the UK next year (that will be fucking amazing - I am already booked in for London and Leeds). And, on a slightly smaller scale, here's CUD and The Boo Radleys. BOGOF (buy one, get one free) is the future for the bands of my youth - yay!
The Boo Radleys returned back in 2021 (see The Boo Radleys, The Moth Club, London, 30th October 2021), without their main songwriter, Martin Carr, but reinvigorated and strangely better without Martin. They seemed less afraid to have fun, just genuinely chuffed to be there and making music. It was truly joyous. Mrs JO'B and I loved it so much, we saw them again in April the following year down in Kingston, at the Pryzm. Again, it was a splendid show. They've now released two great albums - poppier than the Boos of old, but solid, strong albums - way better than anything we might have expected.
CUD too have been beavering away, playing regularly again since 2006 (having crashed and burned back in 1995). They have been releasing the occasional single or EP on and off since then, and tour regularly. They are still as funky as ever - energetic, funny, mad, charming. They are still a thrilling proposition live.
So, the chance to see both bands together is too good to miss. And it's not the first time I have seen them together (see Best gigs: 50 - 41). They both supported Pixies back in 1991 and both were fantastic then. Completely different from each other - CUD, like Morrissey found funky indie; The Boo Radleys more experimental in their day, but also capable of writing perfect, New Order-ish pop songs.
And here we are - me, Fi, Matt and Loz in Islington ridiculously early, as the venue has a club night later. So CUD take the stage at the obscenely early time of 7.00 pm. Actually, we are old these days, so a gig that starts and finishes early is far from obscene, it's bloody great. It'll be finished by 10.00pm - brilliant!
As they take the stage, CUD sound exactly as they did when I first saw them 32 years ago. Yes, they are plumper (Carl's shirt is admirably tight and straining - no criticism here, my own shirts are under similar pressure), but he's stylish and cool, though his hair is a bit "David Crosby". His voice sounds as sharp as it did back in the day and the lyrics still generate belly laughs. Purple Love Balloon inspires immediate mass-dancing amongst the crowd, mostly middle aged men, which I guess isn't a huge surprise. Although she's not familiar with them, Fi is dancing from the off, grooving like she's dancing to the soundtrack of her life. Fi and Matt are, like Mrs JO'B, Aussies so whilst The Boo Radleys made it over there, sadly Leeds' finest indie funksters didn't make it to an antipodean audience, it would seem.
Hits and album tracks are dispensed at speed, and they play an updated Hey Boots ("Hey Boos"), which incorporates The Boo Radleys' Barney (...And Me). It's a lovely touch. Carl's deep rumbling voice is sharp on the brooding Love In A Hollow Tree. Rich And Strange, One Giant Love and Hey!Wire inspire collective jumping and grinning amongst the 50-somethings. Robinson Crusoe even has their own Bez-like fan take the stage - he seems to have some sort of fame amongst the CUDsters, with people taking their pictures with him after the show (which is hilarious and quite strange simultaneously).
They close with the magnificent I've Had It With Blondes, which has the wonderful opening lyric "I was a teenage stamp-collector, I'd lay on my back and you'd stamp on my face". And then CUD are gone. Boo! But my Aussie companions, newly imitated in the world of CUD, are sold and love them. Result.
Then it's The Boos' turn. They toured in the summer, playing the whole of their 1993 classic album Giant Steps. I couldn't make tour that due to work (gutted), so it's great they open with a trio of tracks from that album. Sice, their ever-affable singer, is all smiles and looks delighted to just be playing again. The tour is just 7 nights, played over 8 - presumably to fit in with half-term and Tim's responsibilities as a teacher. Term-time planning is the new rock'n'roll! My Aussie friends are much more familiar with their songs; me and Loz remember seeing them on the Giant Steps tour at the Astoria back in 1993 (we think!?).
Tracks from most of their albums are played, from the pop genius of the aforementioned Barney (...And Me), to the ode to voluntary euthanasia, A Full Syringe And Memories Of You (cheery stuff for a Saturday night!). They only play one song from the new album, Eight, the storming How Was I To Know?. It would be great to hear more from Eight, hope we get more songs from it soon. Their songs are at times poppy, trippy, feedback drenched, dub...and their return the compliment to CUD, covering their 2014 single, Victoria.
We are all dancing now, though the audience seems to have thinned slightly after CUD. But The Boos are on fine, fine form. Lazy Day is two minutes of utter splendidness.
They finish with the giant, dub-pop classic of Lazarus and as it was back then, it's still huge. And then rather than go through the pretence of going off stage, they play the encore there and then, the inevitable Wake Up Boo!.
Then that's it. Is it just nostalgia? Yes, of course it is. But what's wrong with that? And these BOGOF tours are great value for money, as well as great entertainment. My fantasy BOGOF tours are currently The Wonderstuff paired with Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine or The Blue Aeroplanes and The House Of Love. Those would be GREAT shows!
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