THE MONOCHROME SET - Cardiff Globe
Releasing several singles and albums over the next few years, none of which were commercially successful, they officially split in 1985. However, there have been periodic reformations since, all based around the Bid, Warren, Square axis and they have continued to tour heavily. In late 2014, stalwart Lester Square left after completing recording of the album Spaces Everywhere, and former member John Paul Moran rejoined on keyboards. Their thirteenth studio album, Cosmonaut, was released in September 2016, when Mike Slocombe (who also had previously been in the band) returned on drums and thus completed the present line up.
Support band the Hepburns - a Llanelli based band that claimed Bacharach, Barry and Morricone as influences - were not my cup of tea. In their defence they had brought a sizeable crowd with them from West Wales, although I'm always going to have a problem as a Cardiff boy with a band that has a number solely made up of a Swansea postcode!
The Monochrome Set have played Cardiff regularly and I've seen them several times previously and always enjoyed their rather weird eclectic mix of pop and pomposity. Therefore tonight should have gone well. However, I can't help thinking that the addition of a keyboard player, and by definition the loss of a guitarist, has materially altered the sound of the band.
At times Moran's able, but somewhat overpowering, keyboards meant that songs took on a Doors like quality and I struggled to recognise certain well known standards. However, I suspect the band themselves don't view this reinvention as necessarily a bad thing, as they have always been ones to build on shifting sands.
A set list that ran the gamut of their career included
"Walking With the Beast", "I Love Lambeth", "Cowboy
Country", "The Lighter Side of Dating", "Cosmonaut",
"Jet Set Junta" and "Monochrome Set" to name but
Still perhaps my reservations are only founded on a want for things never to change. With a career that has spanned nearly four decades, they can be forgiven in not wanting to stay in a rut and I'm sure the (re)introduction of the new members has given the band a new lease of life and impetuous. So, whilst this wasn't the most enjoyable Monochrome Set gig I've witnessed, they can never be said to be dull and repetitious and for that I think they should be applauded.