Almost a fortnight too late for me to be immediate with my excitement, but after several years of lamenting the dwindling local music and social scene in Bolton, it was so good to see an event that surpassed all expectations. The event, a night in honour of the late Bolton comedian Richard ‘Hovis Presley’ McFarlane, was a resounding success, and for anyone who grew up within the once vibrant alternative scene of the town, it was a grin inducing return to form. Organised by Bolton stalwarts, including DJ Paul Tattersall (Pauly T), the night included punk poetry, real ales, a huge hall for dancing and general socialising (the wonderful Art Deco Commerce House), and live performances from Badly Drawn Boy and The Smiths Ltd.
The emphasis on the local made this all the more special (Badly Drawn Boy grew up in Breightmet, Bolton, and The Smiths Ltd. pay homage to arguably the most revered Manchester band). Badly Drawn Boy (alias Damon Gough) offered his usual lengthy anecdotes, which if I’m honest, can sully an otherwise entertaining set of acoustic gems. As for The Smiths Ltd, they were far more in tune with the audience’s expectations of an indie Saturday night, encouraging much Morrissey-esque dancing and singalongs. Some very good vocals there from the actual band leader, but also excellent guitar work from Alex Gaskell, who I’m happy to name drop as a friend of mine. His Johnny Marr ‘impersonation’ is so good you’ll almost forget it’s not him, plus the attention to detail gives you a real sense of The Smiths in 1987 (all their instruments and equipment match that used on the Smiths’ final tour), although as with many tribute bands we’re faced with the odd sight of a lookalike band who are slightly more mature than the band they are paying tribute to.
But ultimately what makes a great evening is the people, and the Bolton indie and rock community came out in their droves, and that includes faces old and new. Hopefully this is a new beginning for a town that used to offer so much, and not a false dawn. More of this please!
All donations from this concert went to the charity Shelter. If you would like to make a contribution to Shelter, please click the link below: