The Coral review – ready again for liftoff

The Leadmill, Sheffield
The rejuvenated Mersey five-piece host a trippy party to showcase their comeback album Distance Inbetween, and throw in a heartfelt greatest hits selection too

In the 00s, when the young Coral were struggling with the demands of being one of the most sought-after bands in Britain, they attempted to slow down the velocity of their success. Top five albums gave way to wackier music and rebellious behaviour. At one point they recruited a maraca player whose party piece was to hurl the instruments at the audience.

No such tomfoolery now. After a five-year hiatus, the Wirral band have returned as a militarily drilled quintet, who deliver a career-spanning, genre-juggling, 22-song setlist.

Delivered under the sort of intense, psychedelic light show that could give unsuspecting passers-by revelations about life’s meaning, the first half concentrates on excellent comeback album Distance Inbetween, the Coral’s heaviest and trippiest. With ex-Zutons man Paul Molloy on spaced-out guitar, the songs inhabit a triangle between psychedelic rock, Mersey pop and trilby-wearing frontman James Skelly’s rich balladeer’s croon. The metronomic, spacey Connector sounds even more surreal when the venue’s door alarm goes off.

However, no matter how far out they get – and the searing Fear Machine wrenches at its moorings – they never stray from classy pop constructions.

Guitarist Paul Molloy plays under the Coral’s psychedelic light show.
Guitarist Paul Molloy plays under the Coral’s psychedelic light show. Photograph: Gary Wolstenholme/Redferns

Older songs are delivered with the sense of purpose of a band rediscovering the joys of their own music. Jacqueline and Put the Sun Back are warm and lovely; Calendars and Clocks is wounded and emotional; Pass It On is beautifully illuminated by images of their young selves.

The enigmatic Skelly isn’t given to cheery chit-chat, but bassist Paul Duffy seems genuinely touched by the rousing singalongs during In the Morning and Dreaming of You. When the rejuvenated Coral pile into the epic Goodbye – complete with rocket launch-type countdown – they sound ready for another liftoff.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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