One of the UK’s premier tribute acts, The Style Councillors were back in Glasgow, for one of two Scottish dates, which has often been the case had been rearranged due to the pandemic. It may have kept the numbers down, but a three quarters full venue on such a horrible, Scottish winter’s evening was still a decent return.
On vocals and guitar Darren Fletcher does his best Paul Weller impression, and leads from the front impeccably well, in vocals and musical ability, a fine guitarist. The other guys in the band are seasoned musicians, as was Weller’s remit when constructing the original band back in 1983, and individually they are extremely talented. Steve Hayes and Keith High on keyboards, Craig Read on drums, Dan Mullins on percussion, Al Carter on bass guitar, with Trevor Irving, Dave Welton and Tony Ardin on horns, as a unit they work very well together, so much so if you shut your eyes, it would be a tall order at times to distinguish between tonight’s band and the Real McCoy. It was a pity Dani Clay who fills Dee C Lee’s shoes perfectly was unable to travel due to the pandemic.
Opening with an extended version of Life at a Top People’s Health Farm, the band would turn for the first time tonight to the track listing of debut album Café Bleu with the next number, the 1985 classic You’re The Best Thing. This tour of gigs is to promote the debut record from 1984 and tonight’s set would showcase most of the tracks from that album.
Me Ship Came In, Here’s One That Got Away, Headstart for Happiness, some of the early tracks which had the crowd on their feet. When Paul Weller split his first band The Jam at their peak in 1982, many die-hard fans wouldn’t forgive him, and shied away from The Style Council, but looking back at their discography, they had more than decent success in the UK charts, both albums and singles. Shout To The Top, My Ever Changing Moods, Solid Bond In Your Heart and Speak Like a Child, all top 10 UK chart singles, but Long Hot Summer was their top charting UK release, hitting number three in 1983. Tonight the band played a reworked version, as Fletcher said ‘its possibly how the band would have approached it as time went on’. A terrific number in its own right, but tonight sounded particularly good.
The band closed with the debut single Speak Like a Child, before retiring for a short break. A three track encore followed with Down in the Seine, Big Boss Groove and a rousing finale with Walls Come Tumbling Down. A great show by the band, held back slightly due to time constraints with the venue having a 10pm curfew, as a couple of numbers were cut form the set. As tribute acts go, The Style Councillors are up there with the best. Some tributes sound good and fail aesthetically, some look identical but sound nothing like who their trying to be. Darren Fletcher and co can hold their head high, they look the part and sound fabulous, a band well worth seeing for fans of the 80s originals. Top marks.
Review & Photographs by Stephen Wilson