Ian Prowse and Amsterdam play their biggest hometown headline gig in a long time this Saturday. Very special guests on the night will be Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls of The Wonder Stuff. The music made by Amsterdam, The Wonder Stuff and Prowse’s first band, Pele, stands on a lot of common ground… but the two songwriters never met until well over a decade into their respective careers. They’ve made up for it since, though. By Miles Hunt.
I first met Ian Prowse when our two bands, Amsterdam and The Wonder Stuff, were paired up to tour the UK together. It was the spring of 2005 and the first date of the tour was in Brighton on March 9th… what I find most remarkable about that date is that it took so damn long for the two of us to actually meet, face to face, as it were. I say this because both of our bands were signed to Polydor Records at exactly the same time during the early nineties – the two of us worked with many of the same members of staff at the label, the music that each of our bands made at that time wasn’t exactly at odds with one another (acoustic-fuelled, fiddle-laced, chorus-led rock ‘n’ roll) and at a brief glance anyone could even be forgiven for thinking that the two of us shared the same barber! Did anyone think to introduce us back then, though? No, they didn’t.
Perhaps that’s just as well. There’s a good chance that our firebrand younger selves might not have hit it off in quite the same comradely spirit as we did in 2005, both then in our late thirties. To begin with we bonded on music… what else? Fond remembrances of seeing The Jam on the ‘All Mod Cons’ tour and hearing ‘English Civil War’ by The Clash for the first time were swapped, followed quickly by heated debates over which of JJ Burnel’s mighty bass lines were the greatest in the songs of The Stranglers. Deeper conversations ensued, concerning how our socio-political persuasions had been nuanced once having heard The Tom Robinson Band’s debut album, ‘Power In The Darkness’, in our early teen years. Thankfully, the subject of football was swiftly dealt with and Prowsey cut me a break on not sharing that particular passion with him.
The following year, 2006, our two bands toured the UK together again and it was during the tour that we shared the occasional dressing room. On one occasion, Leeds Cockpit if memory serves me correctly, Ian heard me playing the music of Damien Dempsey on a pair of portable speakers. Damien had just released his first live album, ‘Live At The Olympia’, and I was in wind down mode having just finished a set with The Wonder Stuff… after a good gig, you see, I’m always loathe to let the energy levels drop and Dempsey’s live album was a perfect ‘let’s keep the party going’ soundtrack in the dressing rooms of that tour. Prowsey’s ears were instantly engaged by what he was hearing and he immediately asked me who this Damien Dempsey fella’ was. I loved this… as I now had a captive audience and could go through all my favourite songs of Damien’s with a brief synopsis as to what each song’s subject matter was. I’d been hooked on the guy since first hearing him back in 2003 and now I had someone equally as enthralled as I. Having first bonded over Damien Dempsey’s music, we stayed in touch over the next decade or so and always lend each other support in whatever our latest endeavours might be (he particularly enjoyed playing on the ‘Shared’ acoustic album projects Erica Nockalls and I produced and I always love coming to Liverpool when I can for the now-legendary ‘Monday Club’ nights at The Cavern Pub). Each of us is always there to encourage the other. We both understand that the music business we came in to in the late eighties and early nineties has changed beyond recognition.
It’s lucky, then, that neither of us were in it for the ‘business’ end of things… music is what put a flame under each of our arses back when we were little kids tuning in to ‘Top Of The Pops’ and music is still the thing that keeps both of our hearts a-pumpin’. It’s in this spirit that Erica and I are thrilled to be invited to play with Amsterdam’s fifteen piece rock ‘n’ roll ensemble this week in Liverpool.
You’d be daft to miss it.
Ian Prowse & Amsterdam
with special guests Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls + Nick Ellis
Saturday, December 2nd 2017, 7pm
O2 Academy, Hotham Street, Liverpool
‘The Wonder Stuff Diaries’, by Miles Hunt, are available here
Pic by John Johnson