Everyone likes a healthy dose of nostalgia and tonight in Rock City's basement room the reminisces are twofold. Originally active during the mid to late 70s before disbanding in the early 80s, Marseille were forerunners to the NWOBHM movement and, judging by the age of some present in the room, fans of yore have turned out to catch them in action. They've also garnered a degree of attention due to one of the founding members being none other than Neil Buchanan of 'Art Attack' fame, so that's also attracted a younger generation of music fan who remember the man from his many years presenting the massively popular children's television programme that first aired back in 1989. In fact, he's the only original member of Marseille present tonight - fellow axeman Andy Charters also still features in the reunited lineup since their reformation 3 years ago but, living in the States, he unfortunately missed his flight so was unable to make it over to the UK for this evening's show. Also absent is bassist Lee Andrews but Exit State's Phil Ireland learnt the set in an impressively short period of time, just half a day, to kindly fill in. The recently recruited Ace Finchum of Tigertailz occupies the drum stool and Nige Roberts has been fronting the band ever since replacing Paul Dale when Marseille's original vocalist opted to participate no longer in the reunion.
Taking to the stage just after 10:30pm, the room is reassuringly busy but I'm guessing many have wandered in from the Anvil gig that took place at the Rescue Rooms earlier in the evening as Marseille was advertised as free entry for those who'd been to said show. A perfect opportunity for the curious and the nostalgically inclined to check out Neil & co first hand. And they don't disappoint. Armed with an arsenal of melodically catchy, upbeat rock/metal tunes, Rock City's basement is filled with a jovial atmosphere that is lapped up by a display of bobbing heads in the crowd. Old numbers like 'Rock You Tonight', 'Walking Through The Night' and 'Some Like It Hot' are aired alongside tracks from last year's appositely titled comeback album 'Unfinished Business' including the title track from said release, 'I Believe', 'Rock Radio', 'Lost', 'Raise Hell' and set opener 'Wanna Get High'. Perpetuating the fun emphasis of their performance, Neil hurls a little bit of Art Attack banter at the audience including his proclamation that The Head is in storage in a box although he "put a Barbie Doll in there so she's getting plenty of head!" He also reassures people that he's very much alive and well, contrary to rumours of his untimely death engendered by a perverse internet hoax three years ago. But, humour aside, Marseille are a serious band and can rock with the best of 'em. Neil's fretboard skills are impressive and manages to fill out the sound both rhythm and lead-wise well enough to compensate for the lack of his fellow axeman this evening. Nige is a frontman with all the right moves and has a tonally pleasing voice that's apt for the music over which he sings, while Phil does an amazing job filling in on bass which is tight against Ace's array of energetic beats. All in all, a perfect post-gig gig, and that's discernibly a shared sentiment judging by the smiles on faces around the venue. Marseille are a good reminder that retro rock/metal of this ilk is meant to be fun rather than a mere regurgitation of the genre's clichés. And when it's performed this competently by people who have a perceivable love for what they do, Marseille are an infectiously engaging band to witness in live action.
Saturday 25th June 2011
Rock City in Nottingham, UK
Review & Photography by Mark Holmes
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