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Wheatus - The Horn, St Albans - September 25 2013 (Live Review)

Monday, 30 September 2013 Written by Anna Ghislena

Hands up if you know Teenage Dirtbag by Wheatus? Of course you do. According to Brendan B. Brown, the band’s frontman and sole surviving original member, it has been in the charts no less than five times since its release in 2000.

 It is one of the key soundtracks to the lives of the early noughties skater/pop-punk generation and that’s why The Horn in St Albans is completely sold out to a crowd of grown up dirtbags, and a few of the teenage variety.

Having long survived the major label mangle, Wheatus are admirably independent, managing their own production, touring and songwriting, and they deliver the same distinctive sound that was like marmite to the ears over 10 years ago. Back then, Wheatus sat awkwardly and annoyingly in the middle ground left by Blink-182 and Green Day. They were either loved or hated.

More than a decade on, the band are still here and on an intimate UK tour of small venues, celebrating the launch of another new album, ‘The Valentine LP’. The spontaneous set list at The Horn is an entertaining mix of songs from the self-titled album and a surprising amount of cover versions to tickle affections, with only a mere sniff of the new album.

Brown still has the mesmerising tones of a sweet, lollipop sucking girl and his audience is comfortable with his easy rapport, enjoying his wit and cheek. Frankly, he hasn’t really grown up at all. Most of the audience surprise themselves at how well they know the lyrics to opening numbers Leroy, Truffles and Lemonade.  

Their version of Erasure’s A Little Respect is intermittently followed by a bizarre string of covers that are a blatant attempt to delight. An ode to the boy band, One Direction, who have recently added Teenage Dirtbag to their own repertoire, has the crowd jumping up and down for the first time during the evening, to a tongue-in-cheek blast of That’s What Makes You Beautiful.  

The tour has also seen Green Day’s Basket Case rolled out but the best of the evening was AC/DC’s Rock 'N' Roll Damnation. Too many covers you wonder? Well, yes, but this was all about crowd-pleasing, irony and maintaining a certain level of deliberate immaturity.

As fresh as the day it was first released, Teenage Dirtbag was greeted by en masse enthusiasm and one crowd surfer whose solo effort was brought to an end during the final song, Hump ‘Em An’ Dump ‘Em. Wheatus and their fans have all grown up but, most importantly, the music is the same.

Wheatus UK & Ireland Tour Dates are as follows

Thu October 3rd 2013 - NOTTINGHAM Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Fri October 4th 2013 - MANCHESTER O2 Academy 3
Mon October 7th 2013 - WOLVERHAMPTON Slade Rooms
Tue October 8th 2013 - MILTON KEYNES Crauford Arms
Wed October 9th 2013 - GLOUCESTER Guildhall
Fri October 11th 2013 - LONDON Goldsmiths College
Sat October 12th 2013 - LONDON Borderline
Sun October 13th 2013 - BRIGHTON The Haunt
Mon October 14th 2013 - SOUTHAMPTON RoXX

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