Northern Soul: The Second Coming
You might know absolutely nothing about that bloke you're standing next to at the bar but you spy the laurel wreath and the sideburns and you know this lad's got something about him. Unbeknownst to you, you probably both own a nigh on identical record collection and have heavily invested in shares of Johnson's talc. Northern Soul is as much alive and kicking today as it was in the town halls and Mecca balls' of '70s Yorkshire.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that this lot have single handedly kept Ben Sherman in business for the best part of fifty years; a tight knit family of (for the most part) strangers united by their loyalty cum unfaltering infatuation with the Mod scene from the Harrington on his back right down to the Lambretta he's riding whilst wearing it.
'Keep the Faith' is the rally cry of Northern Soulers and it completely epitomises the scene; this isn't just a hobby, this is a way of life. A religion!
And where do all these soul junkies congregate we hear you ask?! The coveted scooter rally, otherwise known as the recovering alcoholic's worst nightmare. It's Saturday night somewhere in Hasting's - where exactly is anyone's guess, who can remember anymore?! Now this is no Wigan Casino all-nighter, but the spirit of the scene is everywhere. The British weather hasn't let us down and the rain is steadily drizzling outside but it'll have a job extinguishing the flame! The torch has well and truly been passed on and just as their mod father's before them, the Spotify generation are defiantly resisting being spoon fed Bieber saturated 'chart toppers' in favour of a crate of 45s (vinyl will never let you down when your internet connection times out… what's buffering again?!)
If Motown doesn't float your boat (who are you?!) then Britpop is the default genre of choice for the scootering scene by proxy. Considering the Northern Soul tunes these cats love so much began doing the rounds in Manc clubs and Casino's, it's no surprise the poster boys of Madchester have their ditties lashed about by the tribute bands at this jaunt. Our kid once said that without the Roses there'd have been no Oasis, and what would Ian Brown and co have come to without the influence of Northern Soul?! (Well not a lot to be honest, they lapped it up)! The history of this mobs marching chorus reads like a musical food chain of working class no hopes either side of the pond.
Lurking in between the mod cuts and desert boots are the bomber and braces clad rabble, swamped in acid wash and showcasing a haircut that hints towards slight favouritism for the number 1 clipper. Something suggests that these could be the skinheads (you think?!) and they are far from a dying breed (try asking any of them 'So, when did you get into the whole This is England thing then?' Go on, I dare you! - this lot were doing it before Shane Meadows knew how to tie his own laces!) Their taste in clobber might divide them but something bigger than their requests in the barber chair brings the Skins and the Mods together… the Scooters!
And what would a scooterist be without his scooter?! (Well he just wouldn't be)!! The Vespa vs Lambretta tug of war could only sufficiently be likened to that age old Pepsi vs Coca Cola bust up; to the uneducated outsider there's not much in it. But to the enlightened Coca Cola drinker, trying to argue that Pepsi is the same thing is just all kinds of wrong! There's a well-rehearsed motto that the Vespa rides like a butterfly and stings like a wasp (Vespa is Italian for wasp didn't you know) and the Lambretta… well the Lambretta breaks down. A lot!! You get the picture, his scooter is a Mod's bread and butter and they aren't even remotely similar, ok?! (Not even a little bit)!
The scene is well and truly alive with the sound of music. Could this be the new age of soul?! Who knows? The answer to that might just be the needle in the haystack!
If that lot's wet your appetite then turn this one up, wait for the crackle and let your legs do the talking. KTF!