I’ve got Georgian on my mind…
One of my favourite books of 2017 is The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise by Brix Smith. It’s an extraordinary biography of one of the most idiosyncratic musicians around, someone who swapped the Hollywood Hills – where she grew up – for the industrial wastelands of Manchester in the 1980s where she would hook up with Mark E. Smith and join The Fall. Naturally that would all eventually disintegrate, but when she formed Brix & The Extricated in 2014, with former Fall members Steve and Paul Hanley, it was deemed an unmitigated success and the band have went from strength to strength. I caught them on their last tour and they were an absolute knock-out live (whisper it – better than any ramshackle Fall gigs I’ve ever seen) and their new album, Part 2, is a real thing of joy combining the raw power of The Stooges with the melodic know how of Blondie. They play the Georgian on Saturday 14 October.
A cult figure from the 1980s (and beyond) is the delectable Mari Wilson who will be lighting up the Georgian when she appears on Friday 20 October. I say a cult figure from the 1980s but she always had a 1960s vibe with her beehive and songs, such as Just What I Always Wanted, that drew inspiration from the classic singers of that era. Indeed Mari would go on to play Dusty Springfield in Dusty the Musical, and her Ready Steady Girls show featured her take on songs by the likes of Dusty, Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw, Cilla Black and more. Her latest release – last year’s glorious Pop Deluxe album – was a sheer delight with an album of covers that took in everything from true classics such as There’s Always Something There To Remind Me and Anyone Who Had A Heart to quirkier stuff such as the theme tune to 1960s children’s TV programme White Horses (which is a real show stopper).
There will be a distinct change of pace when Theatre of Hate arrives at the Georgian on Saturday 28 October. The band – led by the estimable Kirk Brandon who would also score major successes with Spear of Destiny – were one of the chief movers and shakers on the post-punk scene with a gothic sound that swept all before it. The band – led once again by Kirk Brandon – still command a huge following as evinced by the success of last year’s incredibly well received Kinshi album, a full-blooded masterpiece that features an incredible rhythm section, driving sax and Kirk’s vocals, as commanding as ever. They remain a real force of nature live and I can’t wait to catch them in the region once again. (Note: full listings for the Georgian Theatre can be had from the website, below.)Brix Smith and the Extricated, Saturday 14 October, 8pm, £13; Mari Wilson, Friday 20 October, 8pm, £15adv/£18 on the door; Theatre of Hate + Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons, Saturday 28 October, 8pm, £15. teesmusicalliance.org.uk/live-events