‘The Pete Wylie Show’ comes to the British Music Experience in Liverpool and Getintothis’ Jane Davies believes the hype.
Tonight we were promised a “wild show” and “magic for our eyes” and even “not just yer average gig.” So – did it live up to the hype?
Sporting a sailor’s cap with The Greatest emblazoned upon it, Pete Wylie told us that we weren’t here to see a gig because there was no band. We were here to see a show. And what a jolly good show it was too, in places more like a two hour improvised stand up comedy slot with musical intermissions and many of the forthcoming ‘Memwahs’.
He complained that the audience were not as vocal in their welcome as the Glasgow audience. Someone suggested we were more civilised. “Civilised” he quipped, “go to an Echo and the Bunnymen gig!”.
Pete made a sell out home gig seem even more homely with a front room style stage sporting some intriguing curios: two ironing boards holding the keyboards, Elvis curtains, a ‘Wah Sing Chinese Community Centre’ neon sign, his original leather bikers jacket, two full size cut outs of Elvira a pillow case with Elvis slept here on it and a plastic lobster sporting a garter and a pair of socks. Perhaps the British Music Experience should commission an exhibition case full of Pete Wylie memorabilia?
From the off we were reminded that 2019 was the 40th anniversary of the release of the first Wah! single and that there would be more gigs in the pipeline and some reissues.
Pete made clear his disillusionment with the music industry of today and joked that this could be his farewell tour, but the audience didn’t seem to believe him. He is still in fine voice and has plenty more to say musically. He thanked everyone, “the pledgelings” who had bought his latest album, Pete Sounds on Pledge and told everyone else to “fuck off”!
Alongside the joking and music, we were treated to a fashion show. A pair of red shiny trousers worn at his Eric’s debut performance, supporting Sham 69 and a paisley shirt he claimed was his mothers were held aloft. Sadly he was no longer able to wear these items as originally intended, instead using them as neck ties.
A carefully curated set list navigated us from the early days with 4, 11, 44 through to more recent offerings such as Make Your Mind Up from the Pete Sounds album.
Pete’s voice is non too shabby and he has plenty more to say musically. Now describing himself as “More Van Morrison than Jim Morrison” he is the proud owner of a bus pass. He has now “Lived longer than Jesus and Elvis” who he observed never got their bus passes. He quipped “Sounds like a good song for Nick Cave that, Jesus with a bus pass, a song for lazy Goths” and proceeded to do an impersonation of Nick Cave singing.
Full of humility, passion for life and love for his home city, Pete has the ability to write about sad topics and make them sound upbeat. Hey ho it’s a beautiful day isabout a funeral was dedicated to the late Josie Jones and everyone suffering loss.
Also never a stranger to political themes, his back catalogue has addressed unemployment in the 1980s, migration of the unemployed, the death of Thatcher, Hillsborough, American Civil rights. Sinful lead us into a generous thirty minute interval for reflection and liquid sustenance.
Opening the second set with accompanying vocals from daughter Mersey who joined him on stage, Pete came back with Come Back and then his first comeback single in 20 years, People the rise of Dunning Krugar, a song with a retro style akin to the Beach Boys and once again a swipe at the political powers that be.
Earlier on in the gig Wylie had stopped any discussion on Brexit asking anyone who agrees with it to “Kiss my arse, cause it’s big enough!”
Seven Minutes to Midnight was dedicated to John Peel, a long time advocate of Wylie’s work and You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory saw the audience in reflective mood before Heart as Big as Liverpool was introduced and dedicated to the 96 and the Justice Campaign.
We were reminded of the ongoing prosecution case which Pete advised us could not be spoken publicly about for legal reasons just as someone shouted “Guilty!” A mass sing along ensued and was the stand out song of the set.
Introducing The Story of the Blues, Pete lamented that things have not changed significantly for the better in all this time and had in some respects gone in reverse for places like Walton, Kirkdale and Toxteth. He urged us all to carry on the fight for the city for the love of the city.
With “respect to the venue staff” the show finished before the 11 pm curfew with I Still Believe in Rock n Roll.
As the clock lurched towards 11 bells, Pete was still to be seen inside the foyer, reminiscing with old friends and joking with fans.
Liverpool still believes in rock and roll and still believes in Pete Wylie.