What on earth were you thinking ?

How can anyone that loves music justify missing this gig ?

I don’t care if you hated the Wonder Stuff. This is different. This is Miles Hunt…

Speaking on Radio Two a week or so before this gig I was struck by the extent to which Milo’s manifesto really has matured: "When I was in the Wonder Stuff I was constantly miserable. When you’re signed to a label you have the romance kicked out of you of what it’s like to be in a band. I love the independence of what I’m doing now, I think I may have just figured out what I was here to do…"

I have the utmost respect for people that find their nirvana. If you’d seen this gig you would have felt that Miles has found his…

The audience were refreshingly over twenty five and everyone, absolutely everyone was there for Milo’s music. Every member of the audience understood that Milo is writing music and playing these intimate venues because he wants to give you a little bit of what he feels. The simplicity of the stage, the fact that Miles, Stuart Quinnell, Michael Ferentino and Andreas Karu looked like they had just put their pints on the bar for later and come out to play for a while, this total absence of pretension left just one thing – the music.

"Any questions, address the sales team… I’m just a singer…" said Milo at one point, emphasising his dissatisfaction with the dichotomy between Music and Industry….

The opener, 'Manna From Heaven', is such a beautiful vehement song that your only instinct is to listen…. Milo’s mandatory "How the fuck are you?" and his customary chat to the crowd followed. A reference to the recent single and you understand that Milo is not in this for the money and not in it for the fame, just the recognition that he’s a songwriter and this is how he feels. I love that about him .

"112 in the charts! Who wants to piss around with the little figures, hey?!"

And so he continues, in his inimitable style… a mixture of affinity with the audience, his usual degree of contempt for hecklers and anecdotal introductions to the song you’re about to hear… this is what music is about – bi-directional interaction and mutual respect between singer and audience.

As you would expect, there were ageing hardcore Stuffies fans there. I should know. I used to be one of them! They pissed me off and they pissed Miles off. He mentioned the Wonder Stuff once in the context of a pre-song ramble and the ensuing cheers told me those people weren’t here for the music, just a reunion. Responses to heckling were typically direct, blasphemous and down to earth.

"Go to the bar – for fuck’s sake….For fuck’s sake. do I have to go through this every fucking night?…Am I boring you? Well, you were certainly getting on my tits…"

What little shouting from the audience there was, Miles put them straight – "I’m here to play you my songs, if you don’t like it or want to harp on about the Wonder Stuff all night, fuck off."

The story he told us behind ‘Immortalising Chase’ was lengthy, enthralling and totally necessary – listening to the song with the explanation as to why Milo wrote it adds that dimension that makes it really mean something. It allows you to identify with both Miles and his subject. The facts that the song 'Straight Eyes' "is for my girl"’ ; that 'Diluted' was written with Michael Ferentino in a gazebo by a lake : that 'Line ‘Em Up' contains lyrics he stole (with permission!) from his brother when they were together in a band in 1984., while 'Love Can Make You Sorry' was written by Michael…… all this information just draws you into the music and for the duration of the gig you’re in another world, looking through a window at someone else’s perspective on life, love and the world.

"That was the last song in the set,. We have some others you can hear….."

WHAT?! Last one? Erm… quick…cheer to make him play some more!

"Thank fuck for that! We were gonna do ‘em anyway….."

And this is where it almost went horribly horribly wrong – I hear the words

"This is a song from a band I used to be in….."

NOOOO!!! Don’t do it Miles, not…..

"No I am NOT playing 'Size of a Fucking Cow". Thanks for the vote of confidence you bastard."

To my relief it was a Vent414 track (Miles Hunt's short lived follow-up band to the Wonder Stuff-Ed). The Stuffies fans in the front went wild needless to say, having been given the closest to what they'd come for that night. The stage directions that introduced 'Muzzle' were genius. He told us what it was he had in mind when he sang the song

"This song amuses me – it reminds me of a West End musical, I want you to have that picture in mind as I can’t do that Jason Donovan singing to the balcony – imagine it at the chorus…"

The encore finished with the evocative ‘Flapping on the Pier’.

Miles Hunt has no doubt who he is, what he’s here to do and that he loves doing it – how many of us can truly say that?

"This would have been the title track to the album but – I named it after myself cos I’m a bastard like that…."


The photographs that accompany this article were taken by Matthew Williams













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