I have written about Chameleons Vox before on this blog (resulting in a rather hilarious backlash from the support band after I gave them a less than complimentary review). That show was back around Christmas, at Sub 61, and Mark Burgess (Chameleons singer/songwriter) was ill. He was suffering with a terrible cold and could barely stand, let alone sing. Still the show must go on!
Well that was then, and this is now. Chameleons Vox performed a stomper of a show last night at The Factory (aka Uncle Hooky’s Student Party Palace). This time in full health and full energy and with a crowd going wild it was always going to be a special evening. Everyone in the room knew every word to every song. Original Chameleons members Mark Burgess (vocals) and John Lever (drums) were joined by a new guitar/bass section to recreate some of the best, and most overlooked, music from Manchester’s post-punk era. The Chameleons have been described, rightly so, as “the best band you’ve never heard of”. Theirs is a story of what could have been, of being almost famous. Actually, this makes up a large part of their charm. The quintessential northern underdog. If they were playing arenas it just wouldn’t be the same.
Thankfully for the select few who have discovered their music, Chameleons Vox are not playing arenas, they’re getting down and dirty in the basement clubs, where the music should be. Watching Burgess last night felt like not a second had passed since 1983 when seminal record Script of the Bridge changed the face of the darker side of rock music forever. Watching Chameleons Vox now, it doesn’t feel like a group of “old men” trying to relive their youth, as can often be the case, it is in fact a celebration of one of the most important bands in the history of British music. An opportunity to witness one of the most talented songwriters and influential frontmen perform his songs for a new audience. I, for one, wasn’t even born in 1983, so am thrilled to be able to experience live the music that inspired me to want to work in this industry in the first place.
“Is my creator a god or a man? Yes – Yours too.” – Monkeyland