Mention the small West Midland town Stourbridge and three bands inevitably spring to mind.
All three bands were formed within a year of each other in the mid-1980s – The Wonder Stuff, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin and Pop Will Eat Itself. To honour their roots, Graham Crabb (from PWEI) organised the ‘Love From Stourbridge’ tour last spring.
It was the first time in years that Neds and The Wonder Stuff would perform on stage together, whilst Graham Crabb supported them on the turntables. The tour was a success as they have decided to bring it back to the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire.
Love from Stourbridge 2019 arrives at the Empire on Saturday 6 April. And this time around the night will be led by Pop Will Eat Itself and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, with Miles Hunt of The Wonder Stuff providing the DJ set.
Pop goes the Empire
Fans of Pop Will Eat Itself will be especially excited as the band split up in 1996. They had each gone their separate ways until they attempted to reform and tour almost a decade later in 2005. The tour itself was well received but the subsequent reformation quickly disintegrated as each band member quit, leaving only Graham Crabb to carry the PWEI torch.
To Crabbie’s credit, he never let this hold him back and after a brief excursion constructing a new band under the name Vile Evils, he started over and rebuilt Pop Will Eat Itself with new members, culminating in the 2011 album, New Noise Designed by a Sadist.
Pop Will Eat Itself have continued to play gigs with the revised line-up ever since, with various members of the original band joining them occasionally.
But their appearance in April will not only see both Richard Marsh and Fuzz Townshend join Crabb, but Mary Byker and Davey Bennett will also be on stage as they perform all the tracks from their seminal 1989 album, This is the Day... This will include PWEI classics such as “Can U Dig It?” and “Wise Up! Sucker”. Sample heavy, the album is a smorgasbord of musical ideas and influences, stitching together everything from early hip hop, punk, disco, rock and funk to classic sound bites from the big and small screen. The guitar work and witty lyrics are heavily immersed in pop culture and delivered in almost Beastie Boys-style to produce something truly original and unique.
Out of the Dustbin
Appearing on the bill along with PWEI at the Empire will be Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, who have been touring with their original lineup since 2008.
Similar to Pop Will Eat Itself, their heyday was in the early 90s with their debut album, God Fodder, dropping in 1991. It reached #4 in the UK album chart.
The Neds sound was quite different to that of their contemporaries from Stourbridge – it was bass heavy, with fast and loud guitars driving over more laidback vocal melodies and catchy hooks. Look no further than songs like “Kill Your Television” and “Grey Cell Green”.
For whatever reason, all three of the Stourbridge bands possessed a natural affinity, which resulted in them quickly being lumped together as the ‘grebos’ after a term first coined by Pop Will Eat Itself on their 1987 Box Frenzy album.
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