Breaking through just after The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays founded Madchester and before they could have found greater fame as a Sixties-influenced Britpop band, Oldham’s Inspiral Carpets have ended up as more of an indie rock footnote. They had a number two album, Life, in 1990, and were Reading Festival headliners the same year but more people may remember them as the answer to a pub quiz question: which band could count a pre-fame Noel Gallagher among their roadies?
So the quintet’s first album in 20 years, a self-titled release in September, has not reached beyond the hardcore devotees, and this venue was far from full. But new songs such as the rollicking Spitfire and tense, energetic Monochrome captured some of that early excitement, even if keyboardist Clint Boon admitted, “We’ve gotta pace ourselves at our age.”
Boon’s swirling, urgent Farfisa organ gave the band their distinctive sound, The Doors doing garage rock. Now an XFM DJ, he was in charge of banter too. Stephen Holt, oddly the band’s original singer but not the man who sang all the big songs (long-term frontman Tom Hingley quit in 2011), was less memorable, with little range to his blunt voice.
The future isn’t looking bright but when they played oldies Saturn 5 and Dragging Me Down, memory lane was just fine.