You find yourself staring at people in the dim light. Really staring, trying to peel back the layers of time and see them as they were then and not as they are now; a stranger in the crowd of the present transforms and is recognisable as a companion from gigs past. For the one-off reunion show of The Beyond the near-capacity Venue is packed with faces you half recognise, emerging from your past as much as from between the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. It’s a strange feeling, the reuniting of audience as much as band, but it’s a good one; a feel good time gilt-edged with local pride.
As those once-familiar faces gather and catch up Damn Cargo take to the stage – saying they’d already got their tickets before being asked to open the show this new band now rolling as a five-piece, bring in the warmth with some solid rock in with big riffs and soaring vocals. Still fairly new we’re tipping them as ones to watch this year for their sound which runs from Juliette and The Licks through False Advertising and back to Skunk Anansie. They get a great reception tonight but it was always going to be a big ask, people are twitching for a shot of their youth.
Together from 1988 to 1993 as The Beyond and then from 1995 to 1998 as Gorilla, reformed after a twenty year break in order to raise money for this year’s chosen mayoral charities. For their frontman, the charismatic John Whitby, moved to politics after their split and also holds the position of first citizen of our city, the title of Derby Mayor.
Getting underway the band sound tight – it might have only been a few rehearsals after a two decade hiatus but these songs are embedded in their muscles as they are in our memories. However much we’d struggled to place faces while waiting when the music starts it is all there, we are in the Derby and our lives of the ’90s. And when Whitby dons the mayoral chain (Is this the first time any mayor has fronted an alternative band while in regalia? I rather suspect so) it’s to applause and cheers – we surprisingly love the temporary merging of the establishment with this underground sound.
The tracks tonight span their career and their releases with Whitby interspersing them breathlessly with nudges so we all stay together on remembering when they came relative to each other. Hands are thrown toward the rafters, at the front a knot of bodies move almost as one while at the back the phenomenal beats from Neil Cooper break even the most casual of us listeners into the groove.
These are the songs of our past, the ones we heard as impressionable youths and realised that even in our small city there were ways to put our creative dreams out there on the world’s stage without compromise or question. And while their reprise tonight is nostalgic it’s also a reminder that while time may age our bodies it shouldn’t dull the edge of our dreams, there is still far to go and Derby is ever-more brimming with those following the beat of their creative heart.
It’s a good thing to be reminded of, while hearing again these blistering tracks full of complexity and boldness, while also raising money and renewing acquaintances forged in the fury of our youth. There’s just one question…does it really have to be a one-off?
The gig was in support of the Mayor’s chosen charities: Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre, Children First, Safe and Sound, the British Red Cross and the Derby Museums Trust. The event was sponsored by Mace Ltd in order that all proceeds from ticket sales could go to the charities.
Find The Beyond:
- on wikipedia.
Read our interview with John Whitby here.
Find Damn Cargo:
Images by Pete Darrington.