In my view ‘The Undertones’ may well be the greatest debut album of all time. Brash, journalistic and downright inspiring, the album perfectly contextualised the manifesto of every teenage British boy between the years 1965 and 2001; find the perfect social group, the perfect record and the perfect girl – in that order. Whereas competitors like the Strokes recommended that the only way to get the girl was to come across elegantly wasted, perennially bored and too-cool-for-school, the Undertones advice was to realise that perfect girls always have options, meaning that love lives of most men are based on luck as much as they are on a gimmick.
Almost 40 years since their debuts release, the ‘Tones are now in the enviable position of not having to worry too much about their live show; to perform well they ‘just’ need to deliver good versions of their back catalogue. Which, of course, they always do.
It’s a shame we don’t see Fergal, but we still have the O’Neil brothers who plough head first into Buzzcock sounding guitar parts and Ramones pop sensible melodies. Tracks like ‘Teenage Kicks’, ‘Male Model’, ‘My perfect cousin’, ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ and ‘Here comes the summer’ blaze in an hour-long set; perfect timing to heed Sinatra’s mantra of never leaving a crowd wanting less.
Whether or not their debut will ever be crowned the greatest debut or not (it was 90th in the last poll I read) this band has always been a special one.