The Major Toms live review – Hare and Hounds 27.12.11

For me, The Major Toms are more than just a covers band. Steeped in Birmingham’s pop from the 80’s up to the 00’s, the eight-piece supergroup are a celebration of the second cities’ thriving past and present music scenes.

The defining collective, – including members/ex-members from the likes of 80s indie band The Nervous Kind (Owen Comaskey), 90s retro-futurists Broadcast (Tim Felton) and 90s electro/house duo Bentley Rhythm Ace (Richard March), – held a stage presence that averted expressions of each member’s individual successes, and instead, focused on a homely, traditional enjoyment of music.

But it was UB40’s Brian Travers who unintentionally evoked the most history, breathing a warmth that reflected 1979, his first ever performance at the very same venue.

Yet The Major Toms sound is obviously not just about Birmingham’s history.

Their covers of Bowie and Roxy Music were brought to life by tongue-in-cheek lead vocalist Owen Comaskey, who’s overly stereotypical Black Country accent replicated a distinct rebellion against the usual tribute act.

Yet, Owen isn’t trying to be Brian Ferry or Bowie, he’s just adding his own spin to some sheer crowd-pleasing classics.

Roxy’s Do the Strand being a definite highlight, bouncing between the band and the sardine-packed Hare, as fans of UB40, Broadcast, Pop Will Eat itself, and of course Bowie and Ferry rejoiced in the retro reminiscent experience.

From old and new school goths to indie kids to golden oldies, The Major Toms welcomed anyone and everyone to bask in whimsical wonders, led by Owen’s witty stances.

While Travers’s jaw-dropping sax solos glued together the supergroup through intoxicating precision, devoting his emotion to a distinctive and highly iconic sound of Birmingham.

The Major Toms are much more than a tribute act. They’ll grasp hold of your music snobbery and bring back the light-hearted community feel, that is all too often forgotten in live performances.

Music doesn’t have to be serious, raise that stiff upper lip.

Words: Ross Cotton

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