Review: Chameleons Vox – The Ruby Lounge, Manchester.


Chameleons Vox is the latest project of  Mark Burgess, front man of post-punk band The Chameleons and a Manchester legend, working alongside his former Chameleons side kick – drummer John Lever. Formed in 2009, the band are most renowned for rekindling the 1980’s classics from their original group.

One important thing to know is that it’s front man Burgess who makes this band what it is – The Chameleons/Chameleons Vox’s material could not be credible with anyone else at the helm and what is striking  when you walk into any Burgess gig is the diversity of people in attendance.  Seldom will you see goths, punks, mods and rockers standing alongside young ‘trendys’ and serious Mancs.  But that’s the magic of the classic tracks which still strike a chord with audiences old and new.

On the night, for the acoustic performance, the band chose to break the set into two halves negating the need for any supporting acts. The first set was the ‘Sun and Moon‘ set – a set which, from the look of Burgess just doesn’t enthuse him anymore – a lack of passion was evident and was carried by the crowd.

Thankfully the second set, a mix of the more popular Chameleons tracks including classics such as ‘Second Skin‘ and ‘Tears‘ with interjections of The Beatles tracks and Mark and Lever’s  latest collaboration (as yet untitled) was delivered and met with far more enthusiasm and passion so that by the time ‘Soul In Isolation‘ was played Burgess was well into his element and the crowd were buzzing with excitement and begging for more.
Burgess’s decision to include a classic Beatles track to his playlist was interesting – the start of the track felt forced as he struggled to hit the slightly higher register but the crowd forgave him once he found his comfort zone, and Burgess clearly enjoyed what he deemed to be a ‘first time’ experiment.

Unfortunately Lever was not there; however, Burgess did mention that he was soaking up the sun somewhere. Luckily, stand-in drummer and friend of the band ‘Knox’ delivered a sparkling and on time performance that would have made Lever proud.

Sometimes when you see a legend or a band that have been together a while it’s sad to see them just ‘doing a job’ – but no one could accuse Chameleons Vox of that – still writing and producing credible material ensures that the band stay fresh and, importantly, continue to attract new fans. We’re looking forward to their next Manchester gig – a double bill with The March Violets at the iconic Manchester Ritz on December 21st.

Chameleons Vox – Friday 16th August at The Ruby Lounge, Manchester.

Mark Whalley
From the moment Mark heard the Bowie album 'Lodger' back in 1979 as an impressionable kid in Manchester, music became his home. Since then, his eclectic taste has led him to find friends from almost every genre and taken him on many adventures.

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