The Basics, “In the Rude!”

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At the start of The Basics’ new live album you hear Wally De Backer say “This’ll be a little different”. Happily it’s a complete lie. They’re as much fun as ever. Though there are some songs on here I don’t think they’ve played live very often, for a fan of the band it’s very much a convivial evening with old friends. For a non-fan of the band – well, that’s a mindset I don’t have much insight into…

The album is released to celebrate the band’s fifteenth anniversary and was recorded at The Howler, Brunswick, on 27th December 2016, one of only a couple of gigs they did that year. Their first live album, /ðə’bæzɪtʃ/, was an exercise in “bringing the studio into the live show”; it has all the bells and whistles, including keyboardist and horn section, and came after a period of intensive touring. (They’ve also done a concert DVD/CD, released in 2013.) In contrast, In the Rude! is an unpolished reunion gig, but it’s loveable in its dodgy moments – and there are some, and not just the one the band loudly point out to each other near the end (e.g. what’s happened to the bottom of the chord at 1:22 of “Memory Lane”?). It’s warm and human, and beside the rougher sounds there’s not only rock’n’roll energy but tenderness. At the end of “To Think of You”, a quiet, poignant song, you can hear the hush before the crowd break the spell to applaud; and listening to the album you get a little piece of that special moment.

Some highlights: one of the pleasures of live albums is being given a different angle on tracks that maybe stood out less in the studio albums. Here “Bitten By the Same Bug” emerges as a really engaging combination of tongue-in-cheek ska plaintiveness (in the verse) and rollicking rock (in the chorus). There’s a flash new video to accompany this version.

It’s well paired with “Time Poor”, which is funny, shouty, and clearly a blast live. It’s great to hear “With This Ship”, here sounding darker and leaner than it does on Keep Your Friends Close, and “I Could Go On”, the opener from their first album, Get Back. The best track of all, for me, is the performance of “Home Again” in the encore. It’s an audience request and Kris reveals they haven’t rehearsed it, “but give us a second and we’ll do it really well”. And it has a tentative quality, especially at first, but it’s a song about homesickness and what-ifs, and the delicate approach – the way it softly assembles from sketches of its former parts – really suits it. Plus Wally’s singing is beautiful. He has the lion’s share of lead vocals on the record and they range all the way from gentle and reflective, as here, to the style he once elegantly described as “screaming my nuts off”. He’s certainly prepared to put everything on the line for music.

The CD is available in two different packages, both with photographs by Barry C. Douglas, who also made the videos for “Bitten By the Same Bug” and “With This Ship”. I love Barry’s photos: he takes honest, unglamorous and yet beautiful shots and they perfectly complement the immediacy of the music. In The Rude! is the sound of three men having fun, playing some stonkingly good songs, taking the piss out of each other, making themselves vulnerable, and connecting with their audience. And I’m enjoying it very much.

On sale from Waterfront.

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