We went to see the re-formed After The Fire on Friday at the MICA Centre, Mersea.
If you’re not familiar with them, ATF were a band from the 70’s and early 80’s who, starting from a loyal Christian fan base, made a reasonably successful crossover into the mainstream. They were signed to CBS, released three albums and achieved respectable chart success in the US, Germany, Denmark, Japan, and the UK. They also supported ELO, Queen and Van Halen. I last saw them as a student in November 1980 right down the front at The Berkley Club in Bristol – a gig remembered not just for the amazing performance, but also for the energetic moshing which caused the floor to rise and fall alarmingly. ATF were musically ahead of their time, something that became clear when their greatest chart success happened just after they called it a day in 1983.
ATF consists of original members Pete Banks and John Russell and new boys Ian Niblo on bass and Matt Russell (John’s son) on drums. Support was from the excellent Rob Halligan, though it might be more accurate to say that Rob came on first, supported by bits of ATF and then ATF came on, supported occasionally by Rob. Both combinations worked very well and I suspect there’s a longer term future in this musical relationship.
Anyway, the gig was great. I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, what with the band being half original, but, as Pete said, they’re somehow both a tribute band and the original at the same time. They performed many of the songs from the CBS era as well as ‘Pilgrim’ from ‘Signs of Change’ with energy and passion. Highlights for me were Laser Love, One Rule for You and Pilgrim. Did they ever think they’d be singing Who’s Gonna Love You (When You’re Old and Fat and Ugly) 27 years on?!
The revived ATF have been back together for three years following a ‘one-off’ reunion gig for friends. But if The Spice Girls, Take That, and 70s rockers The Eagles and Led Zepplin can get going again, there’s no reason why ATF shouldn’t be able to do likewise.
If you’re an ATF fan, you’ll be pleased to know that their back catalogue is now available on CD – info on their web site.