by Rob Jones

The last time I saw the Inspiral Carpets must have been over 20 years ago on a sunny Tuesday morning inside the then Pop Factory in Porth. It was a bizarre experience to catch a top UK band live on stage before noon in the Rhondda, but it is an encounter I will always cherish. Lead singer Tom Hingley returned to Porth on more than one occasion, but in 2024 this talented gent has moved on and that has marked the return of his predecessor Stephen Holt who left the original line up before chart success struck. Holt has been back in the fold for a number of years but it is strange that the songs that really resonate were from the Hingley era and the man who did not sing these tunes at their time of release is now travelling far and wide delivering this magic material with a current incarnation of the Carpets. In fairness Holt is doing a fine job and he is a different beast to Hingley.

On a bill that also featured Happy Mondays and Stereo MCs – Holt and other veteran cohorts Clint Boon and Graham Lambert fronted a 5 piece band at the sizeable Utilita venue in Cardiff and an uplifting set rallied the assembled troops. Just assess the material and only a duff performance could ruin the magnitude of the likes of: Joe, She comes in the Fall, 2 Worlds Collide, Directing Traffic, Move, I want You, This is how it Feels, Sackville, Commercial Rain and Saturn 5. The gig volleyed one sing a long anthem after another and the crowd duly responded with rapturous applause and a dervish movement.

The highlight of the evening was a verbal tribute from Boon Sr. to the late, great Mark E. Smith of The Fall who had guested on the I want You single that lit up a yesteryear Top of the Pops. A sample of Smith’s input upon the hit tune was also introduced and Holt then took over and volleyed the vocals forward on this punk piledriver. Elsewhere, the 60s pop punch of the Inspirals was aplenty with that colossal keyboard taking an aural ascent onwards.

An hour of power awash with melodious momentum made for a Saturday of scintillation. In the 90s I would have been at a club admiring these tunes as a DJ podium regularly fired out the fare – and as the decades have passed their magnitude has not diminished whether it is from the larynx of Hingley or Holt. Although it would be remiss not to mention how much we miss the sadly departed Craig Gill (RIP).
Nostalgia – no! For this is timeless pop quality that stands the test of time and I cannot imagine that many of todays new breed will be remembered let alone revered in the 2050s.

Inspiral Carpets – Cool as ….!