This was going to be the first time I had seen Arrested Development, so I went to tonight’s show at Exeter’s Phoenix a little sceptical as to the outcome. For me, they were renowned for a couple of tracks in the early 90’s, mainly Everyday People and Mr Wendal, I’ll admit now that I was unfamiliar with any of their other material and was alarmed to find out that they have released 12 albums since 1992! Armed with this information, I took my seat on the balcony and waited for the evening to unfold….
Support band N.U.M.B (Never Underestimate Musical Belief) opened the evening, a 5 piece band with 7 years behind them and 3 studio albums under their hats and quickly got the audience in the mood on this cool Tuesday evening. Their music is a unique bend of ‘alt hip-hop’ which appealed to everyone who had arrived early to catch the show.
After success at numerous festivals throughout the UK including Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party and Solfest, it was no surprise to see them supporting Arrested Development, a band they hold in high regard themselves. They’ve picked up positive praise from some heavy hitting industry types including Malcolm Toft (the producer of Hey Jude and Bohemian Rhapsody), Arrested Development and the queen of cool, Mica Paris. With their refreshing take on reggae, hip hop and rap, they appeal to so many people, you can easily see why they go down so well on the festival circuit. Catch the band at various locations around the West Country this side of Christmas.
Arrested Development formed way back in 1988 but it was 4 years later that they reached the heady heights of superstardom with their multi platinum selling debut ‘3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of….’ , since then, they’ve achieved modest success from the 11 albums that followed but would never achieve the same level of success as they enjoyed in their early days. So, seeing them live was always going to be a bit of a let down, we’d be left waiting for 90 pained minutes as they dragged you through their relatively unknown back catalogue until they rolled out the big guns in the encore that everyone remembers them for, Right?….WRONG!
From the minute they hit the stage, their abundant energy flowed into the crowd and the whole room lit up like a Christmas tree! The show centred around the debut album with a smattering of tracks from more recent releases but it was the arrival of “Mr Wendal” that really got the place cooking, “Everyday People”, with its infectious beat and bass line was very well received and, despite being nearly 30 years old, the message conveyed in these classic tracks still remains as valid to this day, maybe even more so given the general state of the planet (and mostly down to the various cock wobbles at the controls)….
They broke things down a little midway through the set and encouraged plenty of audience participation, sing-a-longs, clap-a-longs and jump-a-longs accompanied by a couple of hip-hop floor fillers including ‘Jump’ by those urban upstarts Kris Kros (none of the band were wearing their ‘pants’ the wrong way around BTW).
Fareedah danced like a crazed gypsy woman, her red dreads flying around the stage at one point as Speech played the conga drums with the gusto of the Tasmanian devil himself, injecting a true African feel to the lineup which was lapped up for the audience who were clearly having the time of their lives! Tasha Larae delivered some of the most soulful vocals I’ve heard in a long time, proving that she deserves her place on stage with this classic band.
The band were super tight and were clearly loving the mid-week attention that was afforded to them by this near capacity Exeter crowd, not bad for a cold Tuesday November evening!
The levels of energy being pushed out from the stage didn’t let up for one minute and towards the end of the set, everyone was jumping about as the band kicked things up a gear, the guitar bringing an almost alt-rock feel to the room whist the bass and drums held things together.
I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t an encore but, looking back, I don’t think there needed to be one, they’d delivered everything they needed to in the 90 minutes that they’d been on the stage already!
All in all, a thoroughly entertaining evening which proved to me that Arrested Development are no ‘one trick pony’, whilst hanging on to the hits that made them a household name in the early 90’s, keep an eye on their social media as I’m sure they’ll be playing a slew of festivals in 2019, definitely worth catching live if you can.
To see all the photos form the show, please click HERE
Review by Steve Muscutt]
Photographs by Rhodri Cooper