When I received the opportunity to photograph and review Paul Draper at The Wedgewood Rooms, I jumped at the chance for two reasons; 1. This would be my first gig in ‘the pit’ and 2. It was only Paul Draper the front man from Britpop darlings, Mansun!
Paul last played Portsmouth way back in May 2002, back then he was still the frontman of Mansun before they imploded in 2003. This time around Paul was heading back as part of his fourteen date UK tour having just put out his first solo album in August 2017. The first night of the tour took in The Haunt in Brighton with Pompey the second stop the following night.
When I arrived at the Wedgewood Rooms a sizable crowd had already gathered earlier than you would normally expect. The crowd were being treated to a few acoustic numbers by a male solo artist I didn’t catch the name of and he wasn’t on the bill. In fact, the Wedgewood Rooms had put out an announcement earlier that week that Paul was to be his own support act for the evening. His set was being split into two halves with good reason.
I gathered by the side of the stage, camera in hand and ready to strike. Paul strolled on stage to a great reception from the Britpop/indie fans that had adored him all those years previous. Paul Draper said good to be back – like a home from home. The first half of the set comprised of eight tracks taken from his solo album Spooky Action which included the opener ‘Don’t Poke the Bear’ and the most recent single ‘Jealousy Is a Powerful Emotion.’
The solo set went down well with the crowd, but you could feel the anticipation for the second half of the gig. After a short break, Paul and the band returned to the stage to bring back to life Mansun’s seminal no 1 album Attack Of The Grey Lantern to be played in its entirety!
As expected the crowd rose to the occasion throughout this half of the set to honour the album’s milestone 21st anniversary! This was an album that knocked Blur’s self-titled album off the top spot after only a week of release. Rousing renditions of ‘Stripper Vicar’ and ‘Taxloss,’ which saw the throwing of fake money in the air by the crowd, were well received. The biggest crowd-pleaser of the evening arrived in the middle of the set when ‘Wide Open Space’ entered the fray, a song that is easily identifiable straight from the opening riff and one which provided a strong vocal response from the crowd.
After a short break, Paul and the band returned to the stage to bring back to life Mansun’s seminal no 1 album Attack Of The Grey Lantern to be played in its entirety!
The back half of the album mostly slowed down except for the burst of energy for ‘Egg Shaped Fred.’ A great reception was received by Paul and the band when they left the stage for the second time, only to return to encore the hidden track ‘An Open Letter to the Lyrical Trainspotter,’ much to the crowd’s delight.
All in all, this was a great evening seeing one of Britpop’s less spoken of messiahs taking many of the crowd down memory lane, with snippets of conversation being heard including where they were in 1997, the first time they heard the album and memories of ex-flames.