Stoke Says A Fond Farewell To Sunshine Underground

Monique da Silva || October 18th

“We've had the best time ever in this band but the time has come to announce the end of The Sunshine Underground. Ten years on from our debut album feels like the right time to draw a line under what has been an absolute blast and look to new musical adventures….” Love forever! Craig, Stu, Matt

We all have those bands and those songs that when you listen to them or hear them on the radio, in a bar, it immediately transports you to another place, another time. For me one of those bands is undoubtedly The Sunshine Underground – they immediately transport me back to an 18 year old version of myself dancing to the likes of “I Ain’t Losing Any Sleep.” Fast forward 10 years since my ears were first graced with their dance-punk-funk anthems and it’s 2016, marking ten years since The Sunshine Underground’s electric debut album “Raise the Alarm” - this album immediately became (and still is) a contender within my most played list. The amount of disco they injected into this album blew my mind – it was reminiscent of fellow Leeds based band The Music’s self titled debut album four years prior. Both albums made the same first impression with me – anyone who can balance rock/indie with disco/dance is okay in my eyes – I say okay, I mean incredible, when it works, it really does work and it is bloody electrifying. The Guardian hit the nail on the head when they described “Raise the Alarm” as “every bit as jerkily compulsive as The Raptures “House of Jealous Lovers.””

Now ten years on and we celebrate 10 amazing years of The Sunshine Underground, but sadly commiserate with the announcement of their Farewell Tour. The Sunshine Underground have been frequenters of playing in Stoke for a good number of years now. So when they released the tour dates and Stoke was on the list it was clear to see that Stoke held a place in the bands heart. I was fortunate enough to speak with Craig Wellington after the show and when asked if he had any words to say about Stoke he responded “You know what? We’re going to miss Stoke! It’s one of those places you’d never been before then when you get here it is amazing. We love coming back to Stoke and we’ve returned time after time. We had to include it in the Farewell Tour because we just love the people! We’re very sad to leave but it’s been amazing returning so many times to such an amazing audience.”

The feeling is certainly mutual! The set lasted around an hour and a half – and I can honestly say that I didn’t stop dancing for the entirety of that time. I have always wondered what it would be like to stand on a stage and have a crowd sing your songs back to you word for word. It must be an incredible feeling. When it came to “Borders” - which was aptly placed mid set - we experienced a stripped back, emotional version. It was pretty magical to have Craig sing the words we’ve all heard a thousand times before, and have them sung right back to him by everyone present. All this effortlessly accompanied by Stuart Jones’ funky, jerky guitar, and Matthew Gwilt’s jumpy, staccato percussion and Scott Edge’s snazzy bass lines that we have all become accustomed to.

This is clearly a band who love doing what they do and love to be on stage. Their stage presence was somewhat inspiring and their energy completely infectious.

Stuart’s constant dancing was utterly hypnotising while Craig’s vocals were utterly compelling and penetrating. They managed to perfectly balance everyone’s favourite anthems from their first album with a generous mix of tracks from the proceeding albums. The night concluded with “Put You in Your Place,” with an extended intro, it made for an electric closing splendour that still made you believe you could take on the world. The great thing about this band and their music is that it has no limits when it comes to their audience – the crowd was a refreshing mix of much younger fans, older avid loyal supporters who would be described as ‘an older crowd’ and everyone else in-between.

The Leeds based band only played two new songs from their fourth and final album, instead choosing to give the crowd what they ultimately wanted – a live Greatest Hits rundown with all our favourites along the way. When I asked Craig if he had a favourite song to perform live, his response was simply and ambiguously “that’s a hard one – can I say a Greatest Hits compilation? Either that or our new track Luminescent as it’s the direction I could see us taking.” In between songs Craig would chat to the crowd and remind us of the bands fondness to Stoke and the fact that they had played here numerous and countless times within their career.

Finally I asked Craig to describe 10 years of The Sunshine Underground – to which he responded “One massive party!” – and I am definitely glad to have experienced some of it!