Manchester University Students Union Hop & Grape, 22/2/96

The omens were not good. That night’s Manchester Evening News reported that, in a bizarre repetition of a scam perpetrated in the late 1980s by another (now) popular Mancunian beat combo, the word ‘Northside’ had started appearing on walls, libraries, and (this is the clever bit!) student unions all over the city. "Pay up to have it cleaned off or your all-important homecoming/comeback gig is off, baggy has-beens that you are", Northside were told. Or, as charismatic vocalist Warren ‘Dermo’ Dermody put it, "It cost us 75 quid to play ‘ere tonight! I wouldn’t mind but it was us that did it".

And ‘us’ certainly seems an all-encompassing term for the ensemble present tonight. Aside from the band, the stage is crowded out with Bez-like figures with a (presumably unintentionally) hilarious line in ‘interpretative dancing’, one of whom is wearing one of them surgeon masks that cyclists seem so keen to model (sadly not a yellow one with an 8 on it for that complete early-90s revival experience). Halfway through the evening’s entertainment one of the speaker stacks collapses under the weight of stagedivers launching themselves unsteadily off it (stagediving towards the band, mind you...), microphone stands take trips around the audience, ‘Dermo’ blasts a mean Klaxon and shouts stuff like "Northside in the area!!!", "Where are we? Manchestorrr" and other phrases that haven’t been heard since MC Tunes went into hiding.

But what of the music? Predictably, that’s terrible too. Playing mainly the dreaded ‘new material’, showcasing their new directionless direction, they exhibit ten or so variations of the same sub-grunge/baggy crossover, the monotony broken only by the on-stage entertainment and their two greatest hits, the dumb-but wide-eyed "Take Five" and the subtle-as-a-flying-sledgehammer encore assault on "Shall We Take A Trip". Respect to Northside, though - never mind Vic Reeves’ feeble dabblings with the Wonderstuff and EMF, Smokie and Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown, get back in your prams - Northside are at the cutting edge of the rock ‘n’ roll/comedy interface.

A brief mention for Dayglo Yellocet (well, whoever was on before Northside anyway): mohican goths in pyjamas with saxophone and windchime solos, one of their songs enjoys the catchy hookline "I’d kill you myself but I don’t have the time", at least they achieved the monumental feat of making Northside look good.