Farewell to one of the greatest ever UK bands…

12 Apr

I have just heard the news that Supergrass have called it a day. As a huge fan, it is a huge loss. When they first arrived on the scene back in 1994-95 they were a huge slap in the face and played with more energy and passion than any of their ‘Britpop’ counterparts. Truth be told, I always found the Britpop sound a bit corny and most of the bands from that era sound absolutely lacklustre and bland now (Suede, Gene, Menswear, etc). Supergrass on the other hand arrived with monster anthemic tunes, great melodies and are still regarded to this day as one of the best live bands of all time. Anybody that went to gigs in 1995 will tell you that they wiped the floor with anyone they shared the stage with.

Looking at the first album, it’s a fantastic debut. ‘Mansize Rooster’, ‘Alright’, ‘Time’, ‘Strange Ones’, ‘Lenny’ ‘Caught By The Fuzz’… I could go on. Every single track on ‘I Should Coco’ sounds fresh and exciting even 15 years on and again, I can’t say the same for Suede (whose recent reunion shows bored me to tears!). Early comparisons to the Kinks are obvious but when Blur and Oasis were making the headlines, Supergrass toured relentlessly and were arguably one of the most enjoyable live bands in the UK at the time.

Their second record, ‘In It For The Money’ was even better. Great songwriting and even better musicianship. ‘Richard III’, ‘Sun Hits The Sky’ ‘Late in the Day’ and ’Going Out’ are great timeless classics.

The sad thing was that after making two stonking albums back to back, the band perhaps got trapped in a corner musically. Despite classics such as ‘Mary’ and ‘Moving’, their self-titled third album lacked the excitement of the first two and whilst it was a success, the band never really recovered or progressed from the post-Britpop backlash and the rise of new younger exciting bands at the start of the new millenium (The Strokes, Muse, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) perhaps took people’s interest and attention away from them. Sadly, there’s only so much music you can make before you have to reinvent yourself.

The band disappeared at the start of the millenium and despite their fourth record ‘Life on Other Planets’ being a hit amongst critics, it didn’t make the same impact that the band had previously had done. However, they still toured relentlessly and had a setlist of hits in their arsenal. In 2004, they released a ‘Best of” which, when looking at the tracklisting, is one that I strongly suggest you get your hands on if you haven’t really heard much by this band before.

The ‘greatest hits’ album is one that often puts the final nail in a band’s coffin and following the release of a more acoustic sounding record ‘Road to Rouen’ the band had lost all energy and excitement, which confused fans and critics alike.

Their final album ‘Diamond Hoo Ha’ was a return to the Supergrass of old. Big hyperactive songs with choruses built for stadiums. Sadly though, at this stage, the band had perhaps worn out their welcome. The older fans perhaps grew up and lost interest and the younger fans were perhaps too distracted by bigger bands making waves.

Nevertheless, for me, Supergrass have contributed a great deal to the UK music scene. Bloc Party drummer Matt has often gone on record to say that his frantic drumming technique comes from the first Supergrass record and the energy of Supergrass was one that has always been an inspiration to me as a songwriter. They were always a bad I wanted to sound like and wanted to be in. True underdogs.

“Thanks to everyone who has supported us over the years,” explained the group in a statement. “We still love each other but, cliché not withstanding, musical differences have led to us moving on and of course we all wish each other well in the future.”

They are due to play some ‘farewell shows’ this summer and I’m sure they will be great affairs for new and old fans alike. If you can get to them, please do. You won’t be disappointed.

Glasgow Barrowland (June 8th)
Manchester Academy (9th)
London O2 Academy Brixton (10th)
Paris La Cigalle (11th)

Thanks for a great 17 years. Danny and Gaz will no doubt crack on with The Hot Rats now. Who knows what Mick will do…

I’ll leave you with their greatest ever video!

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