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Shining Brighter Than Before

The Comsat Angels October 2009 UK Tour

Glasgow. Manchester. London. It was called “The Last Weekend” by the promoters. For me, it was the weekend I wanted to last forever. I came all the way from New York to see the Comsat Angels play; I had made the trip the previous April and nothing would stop me from going again.

I didn’t travel alone. A group of about ten of us attended all three shows; we knew each other from meeting online — kindred spirits in that we all loved the band. Other friends joined us in each city. A Comsat fan lives largely in isolation of other fans and the gathering of like-minded people was an event in itself. We arranged to stay in the same hotels and take the same trains. It was in many ways a non-stop, three-day party (four days, if you count the day after the last show).

The first concert was in Glasgow. It was a Thursday night, but the band drew a respectable-sized crowd of about 200. The setting was intimate and the sound was great; they played a set that included songs from the first three albums, as well as some from later ones, including Valley Of The Nile, Always Near and You Move Me. The only hitch was a technical problem with Andy Peake’s equipment that caused a short delay, meaning one song had to be cut. I was impressed with the fact that the band looked so relaxed and that Steve Fellows was in such great voice.

Friday morning, we moved south to Manchester, laughing and trading stories on a lively train ride. The venue that night was right in the heart of the university, the street outside buzzing with youthful activity. I had the extra pleasure of attending the sound check and getting a chance to talk with Steve. I also helped out with the merchandise stand, having a blast selling Comsat T-shirts and CDs to arriving fans. The venue really filled up, with about 400-500 people in attendance. I managed to get a great spot right up by the stage near Andy. The band seemed to gain energy from the packed house and gave us a great set, this time including I Hear A New World and Cutting Edge, two of my favorites. We filed out that night with smiles on our faces and with the happy thought that we still had another concert to see!

One more day on the train, going from Manchester to Sheffield (an appropriate detour) and then on to London for the Saturday night show. Another evening of attending the sound check, then helping with the merchandise stand. The number of people was even greater than in Manchester — more than 500, I think— and we sold out of T-shirts in most sizes. I met some other Americans (from Minneapolis and Chicago), further proof that a Comsat fan will go a long ways to see them perform. John Lever’s Second Skin gave a raucous performance as the support band, although I had to endure a guy body slamming me for the entire set. Thankfully, he left before the Comsats came on, one of the very few fans who did!

This final show felt more than anything like a celebration of this band who never got a break back in their heyday. I once again found a spot in front and looking behind me into the crowd, I could see it extend all the way to the back wall; there were even folks high above in the balcony! From the first strains of Sleep No More to the final notes of Our Secret, we danced and bounced and sang along. And then it was over — Steve, Mik, Andy and Terry joined together at the front of the stage to acknowledge the cheers of the faithful. They gave us a great sendoff if this was to be their last ever concert.

My night ended with more magic. After helping to count money and pack up the unsold merchandise, I was generously invited into the band’s dressing room, a great thrill. I met bass player Kevin Bacon who was in attendance that night, though he didn’t play on the tour. And I mingled with the rest, being one of the last fans with them on the street as they boarded the van back to Sheffield. An experience of a lifetime!

A group of my friends gathered that night in a London flat to reflect on what we had all just seen and heard. Then after a night’s sleep, the last few stragglers met up at the Champagne Bar in St. Pancras train station. There were real tears when we said goodbye to each other, vowing that we would get together again somehow, with or without a Comsat gig.

To all of my Comsat friends who I was with on the tour, I love you all. And to the band members themselves, thank you for so much great music. I can only hope for more from the Comsat Angels… they are going too strong to stop now.

Laura Mitchell

November 13, 2009

Setlist

Glasgow setlist:

1. Sleep No More
2. Be Brave
3. Eye Dance
4. Total War
5. At Sea
6. Ju Ju Money
7. Always Near
8. Real Story
9. Valley of the Nile
10. Pictures
11. Missing In Action
12. Baby
13. Postcard
14. Waiting For A Miracle
15. Independence Day
16. Eye of the Lens
17. Driving
18. Our Secret
19. You Move Me

Manchester setlist:

1. Sleep No More
2. Be Brave
3. Eye Dance
4. Total War
5. At Sea
6. Real Story
7. I Hear A New World
8. After The Rain
9. Cutting Edge
10. Pictures
11. Missing In Action
12. Baby
13. Postcard
14. Waiting For A Miracle
15. Independence Day
16. Eye of the Lens
17. Valley Of The Nile
18. Venus Hunter
19. Driving
20. What Else?!

London setlist:

1. Sleep No More
2. Be Brave
3. Eye Dance
4. Total War
5. At Sea
6. Always Near
7. Cutting Edge
8. Pictures
9. Driving
10. Missing In Action
11. Baby
12. Postcard
13. Waiting For A Miracle
14. Independence Day
15. Eye of the Lens
16. Valley Of The Nile
17. Venus Hunter
18. Our Secret

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