Review: Chuffin’ Nora, it’s The Christians live at the Picturedrome, Holmfirth

Cosy old school BBC sitcom Last Of The Summer Wine was more my parents’ choice of evening telly feast, but it was chuffin’ nice to visit Holmfirth, the quaint Yorkshire town where you can sample Nora Batty’s butties, Compo’s casserole and Foggy’s soggy sarnies… and take in super Scouse Eighties combo The Christians to boot. Steve was there.

The latest in a long line of incredible bands and artists descended on the beautiful West Yorkshire village of Holmfirth one recent Friday night, with soulful Scousers The Christians bringing their ’80s and ‘90s vibe back to the area once again.

“Why did you come?” lead singer Garry Christian asks the audience as he steps on stage. “Because it’s raining,” shouts one fan. Both audience and band break in to fits of laughter, and that two-way comic banter happens with this lot well and truly sets the mood for the night.

But they are here to play some tunes in this fantastically compact, and very popular venue.

Looking around, we’re pretty full and no sooner have we hit 9pm than The Christians start the night off with a setlist full of hits and favourites from a group who still hold the record for the highest selling debut album of any artist at Island Records.

Hooverville was a huge success in Holmfirth, as it always is. And Forgotten Town will always be remembered by anyone who knows Eighties music.

Greenbank Drive, perhaps my favourite tune from The Christians, is its usual sing-a-long self. Handing over the woah-oh-oh’s to us three-quarters of the way through the song, we carry it on. For ages. Then Garry throws Papa Was A Rolling Stone into our mix.

With two ‘different’ hairstyles and one lack of hairstyle going on, the barnet jokes are given a good airing. That’s the sort of thing you like to see from a band who take you back to your childhood or teenage years. Ego free, genuine pals… the way you imagine it always used to be. Nothing manufactured in Holmfirth tonight (except for the plastic beer cups, which cost £1 that you get back when returned to use again, or you just take home as a funky souvenir).

Softening the tone, the band give us a fab rendition of Words, and Ideal World sounds great. Garry Christian’s vocals are immense on this track. It’s funny (although, not funny) how the politics associated with that song resonate with things happening today.

Bringing Harvest For The World in to their finale is always going to send us home on a high.  Although not their song, they made it their own in the ’80s. And they still own the best version of it going. There were people way in to their ’60s and perhaps beyond in the crowd tonight, and everyone was moving to that one at the end of the show.

The Christians never waver, and never let their audience down.

These lads keep touring, and long may that continue. You get more than just great music when you’re at one of their gigs… they’re showmen and whatever they say or do keeps you wanting more.

Steve Crabtree

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