If ‘post punk’ is something that ticks boxes for you then highly recommended..
The Chameleons are a band that I’ve rated highly since around the late 80s when I first latched onto their brand of Manchester rock. Some call them post punk, and they certainly have a rough and ready edge and power to their delivery, but to my ears I find the song writing more introspective and the chiming, cascading delayed guitars captivating. They could also be classed as indie rock but at times it almost verges, dare I say it, on prog with its simmering buildups but they never stray far from a full on verse/chorus structure for the most part.
Their story actually began as early as ’81 and imho they are one of Manchester’s best kept secrets of that time, and what a time it was for up and coming bands! So much strong talent bursting out of the scene; the Hacienda, Joy Division (soon to be New Order), The Fall, then Madchester with The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and that Oasis lot..
On the strength of their debut LP “Script of the Bridge’ they perhaps should have seen more commercial success, but despite a loyal local following and reputation as a storming live act not much really happened for them. John Peel was an early supporter and indeed they recorded several Peel Sessions. There’s a tale that Geffen records sent some A&R over from the states to sign ‘the next big thing’ in Manchester, and having checked out the band, and the buzz around them, the Chameleons were duly welcomed aboard (and their third LP Strange Times was released on Geffen) but apparently it was actually The Stone Roses that the A&R were supposed to sign.. Soon after (around ’86) the tragic death of their manager put an end to the band for quite a while..in fact they didn’t properly resurface until the early 2000s, and since then activity has been sporadic.
So unbeknown to me The Chameleons european tour swings into Seville (my adopted home town) and by chance I see a poster in a shop window in time to make it to the gig. Concerns amass in my head over how they might sound now, some 30 years after the main event, but I shouldn’t have had any doubts and their set was roaring and riff-tastic from word go. Mark Burgess still has that haunting voice intact and a whistle stop run through of most of Script’s best tunes and other classics hardly left time for breath. Favourite numbers like Second Skin, Swamp Thing, Soul in Isolation and encore of Don’t Fall all delivered with panache and punch. Burgess is renowned for dropping mid song into other famous tunes, as a nod to the heritage, and amongst the more obvious Beatles references I caught a bit of Joy Division’s Transmission and maybe even The Doors, all good fun for the trainspotters!
I thought that considering how unknown The Chameleons were (even in their home country) that the venue would probably be half full at best, but it seems their music has traveled and there was a good crowd of ageing rockers, regular patrons and a few goths in the hall. After the show Burgess was happily signing stuff and had time for a chat, which was a welcome reminder of how smaller events can be so much more intimate and rewarding.
Ok so it’s hardly a local review but their tour returns to the UK this month (see http://chameleonsv.com/ for dates in May/June ’17) and so if you’re interested, inspired or even curious enough to check them out there’s still time…If ‘post punk’ is something that ticks boxes for you then highly recommended.
I’ve bunged together a Spotify playlist (even though I hardly ever use the service) that might help as an introduction..