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Chapel Square Arts, Halifax
THE Christians were one of the most successful — and socially conscious — bands to come out of 1980s Liverpool. Their debut single, Forgotten Town, nailed their colours firmly to the mast, a synth-rock gospel-tinged lament to the industrial towns decimated by Thatcher, delivered with characteristic empathy and compassion.
Two years later, they donated the profits of their first number 1 single — a cover of Ferry Across the Mersey — to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster.
Tonight, they show they are still on fine form. They begin with a crowd pleasing selection of singles from the early years, such as the Gil Scott Heron/ Sly Stone-influenced The Bottle, the vocal harmonies still sounding as stirringly powerful as ever.
Front man Garry Christian, with his trademark shaved head and wraparound shades, still bops around like the missing link between Stevie Wonder and Suggs from Madness, his still voice beautifully soulful.
Yet far from resting on their laurels, they are keen to try out new material on us — “we’re still learning this one,” he tells us, though no excuse was needed — with Still Small Boys one of the night’s standout tracks, a heartfelt and poignant testament to the maturity of their songwriting.
Another goose bump moment came with their end-times barbershop a capella rendition of Happy In Hell.
And, far from being dated, the political edge of their lyrics is, if anything, even more relevant today than it was then. “In the ideal world, we’d be free to choose,” goes the refrain of one of their biggest hits, originally a rather uncontroversial statement which, in an age of mandatory vaccines, has now become a frighteningly radical proposition.
Yet binding it all together is a sense of humour showing this is certainly not a band that take themselves too seriously. A great night out, thoroughly recommended.
Touring until October 2022 - for dates and tickets visit thechristianslive.co.uk
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