“The Spitfires” are a great band who write great songs and are now launching their third album after forming in 2014. The success they deserve has eluded them so far and to some extent it was evident at the Rough Trade outing. There was hardly a young face in the audience. This is partly due to the fact they hark back to a nostalgic period around late 70’s/early 80s which has not really connected with current musical trends.
Lead singer Billy is in many ways a reincarnation of Paul Weller vocally which again places the band in a certain era. This of course has its pros and cons but I read an interesting article which was talking about” The Spitfires “being the vanguard of a new Mod revival but unfortunately no other bands came through in support, which is something that would have happened in previous youth movements.
Another factor I feel is pertinent is when I first started getting interested in music all my heroes were about 10 years my senior. Now the demographics are all different, where very few younger folk, are going to buy either the physical CD or vinyl, which is why possibly they were absent at Rough Trade, as entry was based on a purchase.
The band commented a couple of times about how it was clearly a quiet Monday evening and the atmosphere was restrained as the audience provided respectful and enthusiastic applause after each song followed by deathly silence as the band prepared to launch into the next tune. In truth it was slightly weird.
They played a 12 songs set list with a quick encore making it 13 as the crowd gave an audible sigh of disappointment when they walked off after the initial set prompting them to return. That was quite a nice touch
They played songs from each of their album including what are now anthemic tunes such as “Stand Up” and “On my mind” interspersed with new tunes such as “Year Zero” and “The New Age”. There is a strong reggae/ska influence on the new material which I really liked and is clearly an influence dear to their hearts. Having skimmed the new album it’s almost 50/50 in terms of tracks that epitomise this new direction? There are elements of the” Specials” Ghost town (Year Zero). On “Over and over again “a bit of “Madness” style keyboard intro and touches of “Clash” guitar riffing on “Move On”.
Whether it will win new fans or alienate existing fans only time will tell but they have a strong stable of sing along tunes from the first two albums to placate their original fans.
They are embarking on a longish tour later in the year so if you haven’t seen them support these guys as they are a hardworking ,genuine band that should be getting more recognition than they receive in my view.