Are you sure Arrested Development?” asks, what has now become an annoying friend. Due to their youth, they equate Arrested Development to some TV series set in California.

I recall back in 1992 when Arrested Development came to our attention with '3 Years 5 Months and 2 days in the Life of...', the title explaining how long it took the band to win a record deal.

“Yes, Arrested Development, the band from Atlanta, those 1993 Grammy Awards, 'Mr Wendal' and 'Everyday People?'. Nope, the band still doesn’t register with him. Mind you, that was over (bloody hell) twenty years ago since I was dancing (badly) to these guys.

The seven piece are here at The Assembly in Leamington Spa, part of a very rare UK tour. As a first timer at The Assembly you can’t help but be drawn to the Art-Deco ambience of the place. The main hall can hold around a thousand, or a standing capacity of five hundred. Tonight the gig has around three hundred and fifty eager punters ready to dance. The audience are
a lot younger than I expected, although I’m sure the various beanies hide a multitude of ages.

Right from the start Speech was in control of the band and audience. “Do you wanna dance? I said do you wanna dance? ‘Cause you’ve come to the right place,” he announced.

A medley of hits from the their breakthrough album set the scene, which was full on energy and dance. At one point Speech had the audience in squat position inviting them to “get down and stay down.” Getting up for some confirmed how the years had moved on.

“Anyone here have our songs on cassette?" Speech asked. Not surprisingly, he was met with a resounding yeeeesss! from the audience.

Tasha LaRae as lead backing singer took centre stage on numerous occasions
throughout the gig, belting out the chorus lines. Aretha Franklin could have been in the house.

If Tasha is the voice of the band, there's no doubt who is the energy. Step forward Fareedah. The girl is perpetual motion. Running, jumping, kicking, and, oh, singing, she didn’t stop. When those hip hop loops are played, she drove on the band and audience in equal measure.

The band made sure there was always something going on, be it flag waving, on stage dancing to audience participation.

Speech was still preaching love for everyone, looking after each other and respect, as he has done throughout the years.

When Speech turned back to music, demanding "Let’s funk it up", the stage was given to JJ Boogie providing what the man asked for, lead guitar funk.

They mixed up the set adding A Tribe of Quest's 'Luck of Lucian' and House od Pain's 'Jump Around before launching into the likes of 'Mr Wendal', 'Tennessee' and 'Revolution'

Although they took forever to come back on stage for an encore, it was worth the wait. They finally, finally closed off having been on stage around ninety minutes with Bob Marley’s 'Don’t Worry ‘bout a Thing'.

Over the years the path of Arrested Development has hardly been easy. Creative and business differences resulting in the band splitting up. The suing of major TV networks. Sickness and ill health with previous band members. Reforming and re-inventing themselves since 2000.

One thing for sure, they know how to put on a show. Will they tour the UK again? If not, thanks for the years of hip hop memories.

Photos: Alexia Arrizabalaga

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