TV Smith & The Valentines – Live review

TV Smith & The Valentines
Mello Mello, Liverpool
Monday 12th December 2011

‘Lets do it!

At one point it looked like this gig wasn’t going to happen, having initially been slated to take place at the newly refurbished Central complex; that fell through when the venue declared the work was yet to be completed ”“ thankfully Mello Mello became available, and frankly provided a much better location to witness this rather special gig, the narrowness of the building forces an intimacy that TV Smith positively thrives upon.

Smith appeared with The Valentines to revisit the ”˜best of’ The Adverts, a long overdue return to Liverpool and the first time he had appeared in the city performing Adverts material since they played at the legendary Eric’s club on the 21st July 1978 with The Only Ones as support.

I was just 15 when the gig took place and went to them at one of the now infamous ”˜matinee’ gigs ”“ for a select number of gigs Eric’s owner Roger Eagle insisted that the bands played a 5-8pm gig for under 18’s; that way he made the as then new music accessible to all (maybe someone should revisit this idea)

At the time The Adverts had all the credentials to garner the attention of any teenager; they were at the forefront of the UK punk movement and the associated moral outrage, they had played The Roxy, and had (at the time) even more importantly in Gaye Advert, a pin-up for the disaffected punk youth ”“ the only thing missing for The Adverts was an overt level of aggression; they however restricted their aggression to their carefully considered Smith penned lyrics.

Some 33yrs later it could be argued that TV Smith/The Adverts are just as relevant ”“ what with the shite churned out by the mainstream music business”¦ “Hello, Little Mix ”“ oh, you’ve gone already”¦”

Smith took to compact the stage, recalled the aforementioned 78′ gig and launched full throttle into ”˜No Time To Be 21′ ”“ within seconds the energy that the original Adverts were famed for was once more on display, as the song ended Smith broke into a burst of banter that reminded us that we are the majority, and that the majority will be heard, before lurching into ”˜Safety In Numbers’ I don’t think I’ve witnessed such energy from a performer for some considerable time, by the end of the song Smith is drenched in sweat, he discards his jacket and speaks of his apathy at the system; a system he has been deriding since his youth ”“ what is immediately apparent is the sincerity Smith exudes, unlike others from the initial punk movement Smith actually lives by the doctrine he proffers.

The set initially remained with The Adverts 78′ classic release ”˜Crossing The Red Sea’ as ”˜New Church’ and both ”˜On The Roof’ and ”˜New Boys’ followed in rapid succession, with Smith’s self deprivation, describing himself as an “old fucker” ”“ as he is only a few years my senior I’m not going to comment other than to say he would easily run many a young band out of town; he is literally all over the stage demanding and receiving equal reaction from the pogoing maelstrom at his feet.

His apathy continued unabated, such distrust with the system ”“ he speaks with such passion and genuine concern that social injustice continues, before taking us on a journey into The Adverts much maligned second album ”˜Cast Of Thousands’ offering up ”˜I Surrender’ which upon release challenged the then accepted punk rules of song construction, and the anthemic ”˜Televisions Over’.

The ”˜Thousands’ album was castigated for poor production values, that may well have been true; here in the live arena The Valentines do not just reproduce the music of The Adverts, they bring a level of finesse that allows the full ferocity and power of the songs to be truly appreciated.

It was great to hear ”˜Male Assault’ and the ”˜Great British Mistake’ but these remained as mere tasters prior to ”˜Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’ ”“ the bands Top 20 hit from August 1977 that explored the executed US double murderer who once convicted successfully challenged the US Courts to promptly carry out its sentence and execute him. Gilmore had requested that, following his execution, his eyes be used for transplant purposes. Within hours of the execution, two people received his corneas, the song considers how one recipient realizes that he is viewing the world through the eyes of a killer.

Smith encored with ”˜One Chord Wonders’ then ”˜The Lords Prayer’ a song he wrote for The Lords Of The New Church and then neatly bringing things up to date with the title track from his recent ”˜Coming Into Land’ album.

A magnificent gig ”“ equal parts nostagia and current relevence. You really should try and see the remainder of the tour.

13th Dec Leeds ”“ The Well
14th Dec Gateshead ”“ Three Tuns
16th Dec Dundee ”“ Beat Generator
17th Dec Manchester ”“ Night & Day

TV Smith is a punk survivor; he lives his songs on a daily basis ”“ he tours incessantly, demonstrating his commitment to the cause – If you ever wanted punk summed up in one concise, no-nonsense explanation; TV Smith – still speaking on behalf a defiant generation.

”˜The Adverts ”˜Crossing The Red Sea’ has just been re-released by Fire Records.


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  1. I saw TV Smith and the Valentines play in Bristol on Sat. night and they were fantastic! I’d waited almost 30 years to see him perform those songs and he didn’t disappoint. I chatted with Tim after the gig and I can report that, as well as being a great frontman / lyricist, he’s also a very friendly, down-to-earth guy. A great night!

    I reviewed the gig @

  2. My mob The Kingcrows opened at the Leeds gig last night. Absolutely astonishing show (though we didn’t get “Lord’s Prayer”, which is a bit of a disappointment for as rabid a Lords fan as me), the man has an incredible reserve of energy and the songs still sound utterly incredible, and the band (all Italian, apparently) were on fire. Lovely bloke too, ol’ Tim. It was an honour to share a stage with him.

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