Words and Pictures (C) Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
It’s almost 3 decades since I last saw EMF live. April 1995 saw the band perform at London’s now demolished LA2 (50 yards up from the also now demolished Astoria). A heaving sweaty night in celebration of the latest album ‘Cha Cha Cha’. It all seemed so promising. New music, new direction, as evidenced by lead single ‘Perfect Day’ with it’s detuned riff and solos. Exciting times or so we thought.
For whatever reason, the band drifted, dissolved, have reformed for gigs over the years but new music eludes us still. A recent vinyl box set, containing all of the band’s 3 studio albums along with rarities, B-sides and demos was released earlier this year as part of the band’s 30th anniversary celebrations, which also (thankfully) included a brace of live shows.
For us, the lucky few who managed to bag tickets to the show in London at the famous 100 Club, there was a huge sense of anticipation. For me, the gap was far too long and the recent box set had seen me playing everything on repeat for several months. How then would the Epsom Mad Funkers (to use the slightly less racy acronym) fare in front of a crowd, many of whom had flown in from overseas, eager to relive their youth!
First up, FADS. The band from West Yorkshire have been around since 2019 and arrived, bursting with energy and excitement at supporting a band they’ve clearly looked up to over the years. If EMF wanted a support that could transport us back to a time when guitar driven indie-pop ruled the airwaves then FADS. got the memo and delivered in style.
A powerful performance from the trio whose debut single ‘Say It, Don’t Spray It’, summed up their attitude to their music perfectly. They have an album out (released in 2020) called ‘Hot Goss’. If their set is a good indication of what to expect from that, check it out asap!
Having already wandered out pre-show to meet some of the fans, there was clearly a strong bond between those lucky enough to be in The 100 Club and the band who hit the Number 1 spot in the Billboard Hot 100 charts with ‘Unbelievable’ back in July 1991. There is always a look of surprise from artists on nights such as this, as if to say “why on earth have these people come out to see us…?” The simple answer is ‘listen to your own music lads… then you’ll realise just what it means to me and the other people in the room.’
The 100 Club suits a band like EMF perfectly. The space afforded to the band allowed each member their own performance area and for James Atkins, front and centre, it all brought back fond memories watching (as he put it ‘a 50 year old music teacher’) him bounce around like it was 1991 all over again.
The outfits, the music, the show… all key ingredients in producing a perfect show. Around 70 minutes of music, featuring songs from all three albums ensured everyone present got an anniversary slice of their favourites.
Opening with ‘Children’ from the band’s debut ‘Schubert Dip’, The 100 Club erupted into a frenzied mass of bouncing bodies, half of whom should have known better but didn’t care and got on with it anyway. Sound wise, the mix in the venue was bang on the money. Everything was crystal clear, the songs felt as fresh as the day they were recorded and it didn’t take long for the lads on stage to warm up and let loose.
The hits came thick and fast and personal favourite ‘Lies’ was delivered to these willing ears whilst I sported this biggest grin possible. To see what you missed, check this out:
Thankfully the EMF show felt like the homecoming party it was supposed to be. Jokes were made, hugs were shared, copious amounts of red wine were drunk (Yes Derry, we’re looking at you !) songs were played and a good time was had by all. If you want more proof check out the numerous fan filmed videos on YouTube that perfectly sum up the night.
For now, here’s the last one I managed:
With ‘Search and Destroy’ on hold (I think) as a result of Derry having a moment to ply the first couple of rows with red wine, the band finished with their own classic anthem ‘EMF’.
Those that had travelled definitely felt it was worthwhile. Those that needed to go back across the Atlantic may well have quarantine issues to deal with upon return but what a night. Worth it and more. All we need now is some new music please. There’s clearly an audience for the band and an opportunity to do something new.
Search & Destroy [Did Not Play But Was Listed]