It’s Safe In A Little World

The House Of Love played The Albert Hall, Manchester on Friday night. I saw them a handful of times back in 1988-1990 (a gig at Widnes days before Terry Bickers was kicked out of the band was memorable for the wrong reasons and one in March 1990 with his replacement where they didn’t seem to catch fire both stick in the mind). Guy Chadwick and Terry re-united a while back, buried hatchets and put demons to rest and released an album of new songs which was fairly well received but the main draw of this current tour is the promise of the debut album played in full. Which is what they do, opening with Christine and then blazing their way through the Hope, Road and Sulpher, the twin frontmen dressed in floral shirts and dark trousers, even their wardrobe choices still in that brief period between the end of The Smiths and the arrival of The Roses and the Mondays. On record the album is covered in a sheen, producer Pat Collier’s 1988 haze. Live they are a little looser and more ragged but none the worse for it. The star here is Bickers, who occasionally explodes into life careering round his side of the stage with jolts, dropping to the floor, scissor kicks, all the while playing those startling lead guitar lines which are imprinted into my musical DNA. The two slower songs from the album Fisherman’s Tale and Love In A Car glower and then detonate. It’s good stuff, done well, without the issues that scuppered them 30 years ago- Bickers with his guilt about selling out and subsequent behaviour on the tour and Chadwick’s desperation to ‘make it’.

Once the album is done they seem to relax a little, actually speak to the audience and set about a second half of B-sides and other songs, all from the period between signing to Creation and the first album for Fontana (the Butterfly album). 1991 song Marble is a blast, a Camberwell version of the Velvet Underground for radio. Safe, a B-side from the 1989 single Never (but could have and should have been a single) bristles and burns. They introduce I Don’t Know Why I Love as their Tina Turner song and then roar through it, Bickers guitar playing loud and to the fore. Early pre-debut album songs like Real Animal and Love get played and they finish with the pairing of Shine On and Destroy The Heart (John Peels’ single of the year in ’88). Everyone seems happy. To quote my brother’s friend, a more succinct review than this one, ‘it was good, I enjoyed it’.