Playing as part of Chester Live, a multi-venue music festival which takes place across the city over four nights at the beginning of July, Mark Morriss was the main act at this year’s event. Known to most as the frontman of The Bluetones, with whom he scored 4 top ten singles and 3 top ten albums when the band were at the peak of their popularity, the Hounslow-born artist has also released a string of solo albums since 2006.
Opening the annual event alongside a number of locally-based acts, a few attendees were surprised to discover that Morriss wouldn’t be performing at The Cornerhouse until 10:30pm. It seems some ticket selling websites advertised the evening being strictly a solo show and not as part of a festival. The late start meant that several more trips to the bar were made than initially planned. But with only one day left of the working week Morriss reminded everyone that they could “bluff their way through Friday”.
Admitting to having a few ciders himself beforehand, Morriss was in top form throughout his hour long performance. Describing his style of as somewhat “shambolic”, he filled the time in between songs with plenty self-deprecating humour about his own life and being a touring solo artist. In addition to this offered lots of top quality audience banter, mocking the middle classness of Chester and how you can’t trust most people with Oasis-style hair cuts or fans of bands like Ocean Colour Scene.
Opening with ‘Rimini’ from his latest album, 2017’s Look Up, he would take a half-and-half approach to his setlist by playing a song from his solo records, followed by a Bluetones song. Performing fan favourites such as ‘Bluetonic’ and ‘Cut Some Rug’ from their 1996 debut Expecting to Fly, it was interesting to hear Bluetones songs in a more stripped-down form. Solo material Morriss performed included ‘Consuela’ from 2014’s A Flash of Darkness, as well as the title-track from 2013’s This Is The Lie (And That’s The Truth).
After going “backstage” for a few moments, he returned to close his set for a couple more songs. One of them was an absolutely spellbinding cover of Scott Walker’s ‘Duchess’ from his 1969 album Scott 4, which also features on his 2015 covers album The Taste of Mark Morriss. If you ever get the chance to catch Mark Morriss live then it’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed, especially in an intimate setting such as this. Not only are his vocals still as sweet as ever, he’s also funnier than a lot of comedians.