The Undertones

The Undertones

It was a DIY rebellion sweeping away the paste

Who’d have thought the punks of yesteryear would be laughing on their way out of a students’ union 40 years on and comparing lacquered hairstyles – the ones that still had hair!

Some of them may be the parents of the current students but they could still form a loud and enthusiastic moshpit when Irish punk band The Undertones took to the stage at Manchester Academy 2.

Paul McLoone replaced original lead singer Feargal Sharkey when The Undertones reformed in 1999 with original members John O’Neill (songwriter and rhythm guitar), Michael Bradley (bass guitar), Bill Doherty (drums) and Damian O’Neill (lead guitar).

At times Paul looked like he was channeling a cross between Mick Jagger and Morrissey, as he postured with his shirt buttons undone. However he didn’t take himself too seriously, joking that his hair was a wig as he pretended to straighten it, after leaping around the stage pogoing. 

One of the really good things about punk is that there were so many short perfect pop songs for the 45rpm era - Jimmy Jimmy, Here Comes The Summer, It’s Going to Happen, You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It), Get Over You, Family Entertainment, My Perfect Cousin, True Confessions and of course Teenage Kicks.

Teenage Kicks is so iconic they played it twice. The first time during the set, the second in the encore with an introduction by the late, great BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel - bringing tears to the eyes of fans of his late night sessions and the “festive fifty” (I still have some recorded on cassette).

Special guests on the night were The Membranes, reformed '77 post-punk band, featuring Goldblade's John Robb and a choir.

Punk may have started with cut and paste fanzines (with scissors and glue, not computers) but now their merchandise stall is mobbed with fans wanting their albums on nostalgic shrink-wrapped vinyl and stylish fashion. 

If you are you are bored with shallow reality pop stars, posturing macho rockers, and too young to remember punk, explore these bands on YouTube. That’s what punk was invented for. It was a DIY rebellion sweeping away the paste. Now they are on the 40th anniversary nostalgia tours but they wrote great songs that are still featured on adverts and soundtracks today.

For more details on The Undertones new releases, books and radio shows visit

By Debbie Manley for Canal St Online

Reviewed by on .

Rating: 5

story published on  Tue, 1 Nov 2016