Secret Affair – ARC Stockton – 5-9-15

From the figureheads of the late ‘70’s MOD scene with some of the best MOD tunes ever, it’s odd how these boys did not achieve greater recognition and only remembered by the majority for their biggest hit, ‘Time For Action’. Their first album ‘Glory Boys’ was a classic as was the second, less successful album ‘Behind Closed Doors’ and proved they were not totally MOD, as tonight’s setlist confirmed.

The two Teesside based support acts consisted of the Lemontops with their psychedelic influences, whose interests include sex, drugs and sausage rolls. Up next were King Mojo with Oz on vocals and lead guitar having a great Paul Weller style, but the driving force for me was the phenomenal bass player whose thundering tight sound drove their songs along brilliantly.

Then Secret Affair arrived on stage as a six piece with original band members Ian Page (vocals) and Dave Cairns (guitar) suited and booted, standing in their positions on stage as they did back then some 35 years previously on their performance videos and appearances on TOTP. Ian, when not singing and pacing the front of the stage with his dour expression, sat and played keyboards in front of the drummer.

The heavy use of saxophone makes their music sound like a cocktail of The Jam and Madness. For ‘So Cool’ there was a great exchange between the Hammond organ and sax, then the gathering pace of ‘Do I Love You’ was reminiscent of Northern Soul beat and tempo, with the crowd joining in the fast clapping. It must be said that the sax solos were a real highlight of Secret Affair’s performance. Prior to ‘Crumble Gun’, only three members remained on stage to perform an incredible, brisk paced instrumental with the keyboard player receiving a rousing reception from the delighted audience.

‘New Dance’ raised the tempo and beat up a notch again whereas; ‘Lost In The Night’ was a popular sing-along track, a smooth slow number in contrast to the preceding songs. The familiar ‘Sound Of Confusion’ had the dedicated few at the front of the stage dancing like it was 1979 all over again. Then it was time for the anthem, ‘Time For Action’ to huge cheers with the whole place rocking, pleasing to see that the guys were so confident in their material as to not have this as the final encore tune of the night. The crowd sang at the top of their voices in unison for the chorus while the band stopped playing their instruments.

Everyone was now well and truly warmed up to dance to ‘Let Your Heart Dance’ chanting out; are you ready “yeah”. The crowd were brightly illuminated as they sang to ‘My World’ with only the beat of the drums, great stuff and this was before the encores. On the way to leaving the venue, cool looking retro t-shirts were available on the merchandise stall, clearly stating the band were established in 1979 – incredibly they split in 1982 and it took them 20 years to reform. There are many who are glad they did.

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