Cud: Birmingham Digbeth Institiute – live review

Birmingham Digbeth (HMV) Institute
Saturday 9th June 2012

Leeds indie band CUD, beloved by John Peel, formed way back in 1987. Despite being embraced by critics they never quite ‘broke’ and eventually split up in the 90’s. They’re now back however, for another bite at the cherry, & Chard not only saw them play Birmingham recently but has also written this review for us.

The 80s-90s transition was a doldrums for the post-punk crews. The Smiths were lost to
partnership strife, baggy made its shiftless presence felt and in the absence of torch-bearers worthy of the name (the reforming Buzzcocks and Stiff Little Fingers excepted), we looked to the likes of That Petrol Emotion, The Seers and Mega City 4 to provoke cider-soaked, sack-off work, guitar-driven road-trips.

Into this cultural near-vacuum stormed a glam four-piece with a lyrically compelling absurdist agenda that hinted at nefarious substances and Wire LPs, an intuitive ear for reassembling many of punk’s original influences, and an innate ability to own the live arena with their repertoire of quintessentially English eccentric pop nuggets. This combo, too early for the Britpop brand and its tsunami of chart fodder, would soon be washed up a different indie backwater by everything plaid that intervened in the shape of grunge.

Like the Petrols, Senseless Things, Ned’s and The Family Cat, the CUD band, despite making friends with the NME and filling the classic old school 500-head venue circuit, would never break bigger than the odd twenty-something chart placing and a crazed bunch of diehard followers ”“ Space Cudets ”“ who would follow them the length and breadth of the UK.

So it was good to see new and familiar faces and hear the Leeds lilt back in Brum’s finest and oldest quarter, albeit posted upstairs to a microscopic part of this classic venue where unwanted evening rays and uninspired stage lighting hardly set the scene. Still, a suitable sense of intimacy was achieved to greet the classic front row of Potter-Puttnam-Dunphy and ”Ëœa drummer from CUD,’ that were able to convince again and again, track by classic track, pushing home the message that here’s a band with a formidable musical legacy.

Opening with crowd-pleasing non-LP single Purple Love Balloon from breakthrough year 1992, it was clear that the requisite mischief was in the house. Mike Dunphy’s crystal clear melodies breathed life and fire into the band missing on the previous reformation tours, and Eau Water generated its own head of steam ”“ for many of the faithful it’s the funky groove of ”Ëœ90’s Leggy Mambo that’s the band’s signature opus, shooing in ESP from last album Showbiz and evergreen non-album single Oh No Won’t Do from 1991, the major label debut.

Via the pulsing punk of Possession, Carl led the sweaty throng through a pleasingly kaleidoscopic set that plucked material from throughout their recording years, effortlessly pushing the fans’ dance buttons as one, then two Cudets joined the band on stage for the bona fide hit Rich and Strange (see above) and early faves Strange Kind of Love and I’ve Had it With Blondes. Testament to Cud’s appeal, several female teams had made the trip, sharp-dressed and drinking pints in this sonic loved-up melting pot, conjuring a tangy party atmosphere of yore.

It was an early show, meaning the encore ”“ not before stand out One Giant Love – was cut slightly short without the mooted Push and Shove and what would have been a boisterous swansong. But no matter, on this showing, the CUD band won themselves a new generation of fans, and rekindled hope that there’s renewed vigour in this larger than life beast yet.

Purple Love Balloon
Eau Water
Oh No Won’t Do
Only A Prawn In Whitby
Love In A Hollow Tree
Robinson Crusoe
Waving and Drowning
Through the Roof
Rich and Strange
Strange Kind of Love
I’ve Had It With Blondes
Hey Boots (encore) Vocally Speaking
One Giant Love
Van Van Van

CUD have two dates left in this “jubilee tour” in London at The Garage on the 16th plus a sold out show at Leeds on the 22nd. Further tour dates & more info about the band can be found on their website here.

All words Chard. Chard tweets as @worralls.

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