Red Guitars at Birmingham O2 Institute 2022

So that was it, our Slow to Fade reunion tour was over and we had a joyous adventure and the response has been unexpectedly amazing for us. Here’s the last set of photos and round up from the final gig of the tour at Birmingham’s O2 Institute. Big high five to all involved and a heartfelt thank you from all of us to everyone who came to the shows. Here’s to the next chapter!

Here we are, all the original band back together, Hallam Lewis, Jeremy Kidd, John Rowley, Matt Higgins and Lou Duffy-Howard, joined in 2022 by Jos Allen and Doug Swallow.

Fab set of photographs by Richard Duffy-Howard, have a look:

Thanks to our special guests Turning Black Like Lizards for a fab set and being great to work with. A big shout out to those who have been to more than one of the shows, sometimes nearly all of them, it’s been great to see familiar friendly faces – and to Andy who came the furthest to see us, all the way from Dubai to Birmingham.

Thank you to everyone who sent us lovely messages on social media, here’s a few:

“The Birmingham gig was breathtakingly brilliant. I still haven’t come back down to Earth yet! Absolutely inspiring.” Tony Gillam

“I only wish I could have attended more than just the one; it was an absolutely fabulous night. If you can do it again, please, please do! Failing that, a live album would be a very lovely thing. Thank you.” David Brown

“Red Guitars it’s taken 4 decades to see this band live, utterly awesome. A great night, you all sounded immense. And you all looked as if you enjoyed it.” Chuck Middleton

“Was the 3rd night in a row seeing this great band – last seen in 1986! Such utter joy to see these amazing people and musicians performing the songs that have shaped me, with sounds that turn you inside out. Thank you!!” @MrRober16070170

“A 38-year gap, but definitely worth the wait to see Red Guitars, recently reformed with all the original members. Thanks for a great show!”

“Overjoyed to catch you live again last night – lovely to see the whole gang back together. Thanks for a great night – you nailed it! Many thanks also for all of you signing my 38-year-old gig poster (adding to Johnny Marr!) Safe journeys back to your various homes & continents.” Tim Bourne

“I think that the whole tour has been so enjoyable for everyone involved, and especially for the fans attending the gigs. The songs are just so good, and the musicianship has been spot-on, Jerry’s lyrics ever prescient and moving.” Ian Stacey

“I saw Red Guitars last week. First gig in over two years. A great night, and a real mental health boost.“ Pete Moxon

“Last night was one of those ‘moments’. A band that clearly meant a lot to people, sonically and politically. And the lyrics are so fresh still. Shaken not Stirred, Good Technology, Sting in the Tale, chillingly spot on. Am still buzzing.” Steve Morgan

“Lovely stuff. I was a fan. Had GT (which still sounds great) after seeing them on The Tube and Marimba Jive. They got heavy rotation from me back in the day.” Steven McKevitt

“I never caught them first time round so this was a MUST!!! Excellent night, that bass, those guitars. Cracking night, much love!!!” The New Fools

“Yup, brilliant night ! And another vote for more gigs please!” Mike Jeffries

“Brilliant gig; and really nice to be able to talk to some of the band.” John McCabe

“They say never meet your Heroes. Well that does not apply to the Red Guitars. Brilliant band, Brilliant Gig and brilliant people. I waited 38 years to see them live and it was worth every single minute.”

“April ended with yet another gig in Birmingham and this was the best I’ve been to in many a long year. Birmingham’s O2 Institute played host to a reformed Red Guitars – one of my favourite indie bands of the 1980s. In the early eighties, while the aforementioned Spandau Ballet were topping the charts with hits like True and Gold, Hull-based Red Guitars were crafting a unique blend of indie rock and African jit-jive and releasing a classic gem of an album called Slow to Fade. Seeing Red Guitars play songs like ‘Remote Control,’ ‘Crocodile Tears’ and ‘Good Technology’ more than 30 years after this short-lived band split up seemed nothing short of miraculous and I was completely overwhelmed with a combination of joy and nostalgia for my youth. It was a pleasure to shake hands with bassist Lou Loudhailer, (who has featured elsewhere on this blog as part of Agent Starling.)” Tony Gillam, Passengers in Time

“Please do another show fantastic !!” Keith Phillips

“What a night. I’ve waited since 1984 for this and you did not disappoint. Brilliant. Please tour again……PLEASE.” Steve Buck

And to close the post, Rob Slade’s review made me laugh out loud. I didn’t know he was there until the next day when it popped up on Facebook:

“On Saturday night my cousin Lou Duffy-Howard was playing for her band Red Guitars in the final concert of their first tour for many years, possibly their only and last gig so I felt the need to see them even though I get bored after five minutes unless the music is really good, eg Beethoven’s 9th

It was a good decision – see the video … where I’ve alternated their promotional video of Good Technology from 40 years ago with my video of the band on Saturday. It’s the same band, the same people, playing the same music and better on Saturday night. My video is better as well!

I’m in the middle of playing a tennis marathon of more than 30 tennis matches in 30 days so so fitting it in wasn’t easy

On Saturday I had a match at David Lloyd Trafford at 12pm which finished at 2:30pm and the gig started in Birmingham at 6pm

So it was just possible but I didn’t really feel like making the effort for something I probably wouldn’t like in a place I didn’t like (Birmingham) so I had a leisurely shower and coffee (enjoy the moment, why rush was my new rule of thumb).

I tried but failed get the online tickets through ticket master but I decide doing this journey would be a challenge and adventure. Luckily Man U wasn’t playing or this would have been impossible, because the my route was past the Temple of Mammon.

I got to the excellent NCP car park in Store St (£6.80 for 24 hours) with 30 minutes to spare and I’m by the platform with 15 mins to spares when I see a Greggs.

Who can walk past a Greggs if you haven’t eaten all day (the emanating smells reminded me)

I queue for 5 mins then I’m served by a slow motion Koala Bear who is cute but takes five minutes to assemble my vegan sausage roll, vegetable bake, pizza slice and assorted sandwiches so I figure a coffee is a step to far. My diet is not going well!

I make the train by two minutes. Clearly I enjoy living on the edge.

At Birmingham New St I discover that the cheapest hotel near the centre of Birmingham is £150 a night which is at least twice what I’m willing to pay for for somewhere to sleep. How can that be? Who wants to stay in Birmingham on a Saturday night or any night?

So I book the Belmont Hotel, £65 and four miles west in Hagley but that means no time to check in and leave my bag.

Its now 6:30 and the gig is from 6:00 to 9:30 but the Red G’s won’t be on until 7:30 I figure so still plenty of time.

I get to the O2 Academy for 6:45 where I discover that the Red G’s are playing at the O2 Institute (why don’t our brains ever read the second word of well known two word phrases?) but I meet there two Red G fans who look coolish so that’s a good sign, they have at least two fans who are not weird 😂

I get to the O2 Institute by 7:05 and I’m refused entry because I have a bag bigger than A4. Who reads admission rules!?

I arrive back at New St station and I’m overjoyed to find a left luggage depot. I didn’t think they still existed. Not cheap. £7.50 for three hours.

It’s now 7:30 so I’m gonna miss the beginning of Red G’s and I’m getting a bit travel worn. I need a decent beer or two and a sit down

My Camra ap tells me there is only one good pub in the entire eastern half of Birmingham city centre, the Spotted Dog and Gmaps tells me it’s not far from the venue.

So I can make the Spotted D and still get to the gig for the last hour at 8:30.

Gmaps is wrong however and while the Spotted Dog is good, well worth a visit, well worth missing 30 mins of a gig, I finally make it to the venue at 8:45.

But I’m almost out of phone battery. I always carry a powerpak back-up but I had the wrong lead 😱

Can you imagine seeing something really really good, perhaps the only time you may ever see this thing and you can’t take even one photo, not even one minute of video? I can’t, and I couldn’t, so I set off back to the station to get the lead from my bag. I calculated that if I ran I could be back at the venue for the final 30 mins 😂

On my way, a few hundred yards, I pass a small Asian convenience store that looked like it might magically have anything and it did, or at least an Apple lightning lead which pretty much is everything. How is that possible? So I’m back in the venue at 8:55, only 35 minute of music left but obviously the the best bit of the gig, and 35 minutes is my boredom threshold for doing nothing, no matter how good the entertainment, unless it’s Beethoven’s 9th symphony, and even then I might have to wriggle and stifle a few yawns.

The Red Guitars is an alternative rock band (skank with soul?) and not overly accessible music but it was good, and some bits where in fact awesome, so well worth the journey. If they play again, I’ll be there for longer. Perhaps an hour 😂

Birmingham not as bad as I thought btw. Lots of interesting or beautiful buildings and spaces, and I almost like the accent. How can you not, if it’s how Noddy Holder or Frank Skinner speak.” Rob Slade

Back to the beginning of the tour, here are the dress rehearsal photos:

Heres’s to everyone who came to the Red Guitars Slow to Fade reunion tour. We had a brilliant time. Looking forward to the next adventure …

A big thanks to Steve Homer at AEG Presents for inviting us to reform for this tour and coming to see us play. The AEG reps at every gig have been brilliant. We have truly had an absolute ball! We’re looking forward to what comes next …

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