Wet Wet Wet + Go West – Live Review – York Barbican
By Graham Clark, January 2024
Wet Wet Wet and Go West are two groups who epitomise pop music in the eighties/early nineties: the former seemed to reside at Number One forever with their cover of The Troggs’ ‘Love Is All Around,’ whilst the latter had the quintessential sound of mid-eighties soulful pop.
The two groups are currently touring together as part of the ‘Best of Both Worlds’ tour, which stopped off at the Barbican in York for a surprisingly sold-out show – proving there is a huge market for nostalgia.
For any Wet Wet Wet fan expecting to hear Marti Pellow, disappointment would have been inevitable – the grinning yet likeable singer left the band years ago to pursue a solo career, going on to star in stage musicals and even pantomime. However, even Pellow understands that there is a huge market still out there for his former pop days: the Scottish singer has his own arena tour coming up in March.
The only original members left in the group in 2024 are bassist Graeme Clark and guitarist Graeme Duffin, who was always a touring musician with the band. Anyone who might have thought that Wet Wet Wet without Pellow would be like fish without chips or beans without toast might have come in for a big shock – Kevin Simm, formerly of Liberty X, had big boots to fill, fitting them superbly. Simm’s vocal prowess made it appear that he had always been in the band.
‘Sweet Little Mystery’ and ‘Temptation’ proved that Simm was not just a replacement for Marti Pellow but an accomplished and soulful singer in his own right. Whilst perhaps not having the confidence of some of the other members in the group, Simm shone even further on ‘Angel Eyes’ and ‘Wishing I Was Lucky’. By the time the sixty-minute set closed with ‘Love Is All Around,’ Pellow’s tenure in the band seemed like a distant memory.
Go West blasted their way into 1985 with the hit ‘We Close Our Eyes’. Nearly 40-years on, vocalist Peter Cox and rhythm guitarist/keyboard player Richard Drummie are still going strong. With Cox still possessing a soulful edge to his voice, ‘Don’t Look Down’ provided the perfect opening number in a set that visited the many points of their career. Go West have not had a hit single for decades, which seems unfair given their pedigree.
It was a fact that resonated with Cox as he reminded the York audience at various points, introducing follow-up tracks to their introductory hit that were not played on the radio or ones shelved by their record company.
‘Black and Gold’ – a cover of the Sam Sparro hit – was in good hands as Cox delivered a commanding version of the song, likewise the cover of The Miracles’ ‘The Tracks of My Tears.’ However, it was the big Go West tracks that the fans wanted to hear – and they were not disheartened as ‘Call Me’ and ‘King of Wishful Thinking’ were delivered at the end of a tight and accomplished set.
After tonight’s fine performances from both acts, it looks like their enduring success is set to continue.
Images: Graham Clark