By Chinamusicpolice Editor
The Inspiral Carpets were one of the most iconic bands to emerge from the Madchester scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their distinctive blend of psychedelic rock, pop and punk, coupled with the unmistakable vocals of frontman Tom Hingley, made them a household name and a firm favourite among music fans all over the world.
Fast forward to March 2023, and I found myself lucky enough to be in attendance at their gig at the O2 Academy in Oxford. As soon as I stepped into the venue, I could feel the excitement building in the air. The atmosphere was electric, and it was clear that I wasn’t the only one who had been eagerly anticipating this moment for months.
The Inspiral Carpets formed in Oldham, Greater Manchester in 1983, and quickly became one of the leading lights of the Madchester scene. Alongside other seminal bands such as the Happy Mondays and the Stone Roses, they helped to define the sound of the era and were instrumental in shaping the musical landscape of the time.
Their early singles such as “Keep the Circle Around” and “Joe” showcased their unique sound and attracted a loyal following of fans. It wasn’t long before they were signed to major label Mute Records and releasing albums that would go on to become classic records of the era.
Their debut album, “Life”, was released in 1990, and was a critical and commercial success. Featuring hit singles such as “This Is How It Feels” and “She Comes in the Fall”, the album established the Inspiral Carpets as one of the most important bands of the era and helped to cement their place in music history.
As I looked around the O2 Academy in Oxford, I could see that the band’s legacy had endured. The crowd was made up of a mix of die-hard fans who had been following the band since their early days, as well as younger fans who had discovered their music through their parents or through their own exploration of music history.
Despite the fact that the band hadn’t released any new material in over a decade, the enthusiasm for their music was palpable. As soon as the band took to the stage, the crowd erupted into cheers and applause, and it was clear that everyone was ready for a night of nostalgia and musical magic.
The band launched into their set with “Joe”, one of their earliest hits, and it was clear that the years hadn’t dulled their energy or their passion for their music. As they moved through their setlist, playing hit after hit, the crowd sang along to every word, their voices rising up in unison to fill the venue with sound.
It was clear that for many of the dads in the audience, seeing one of Manchester’s seminal bands live was a real treat. They sang along to every song, reminiscing about their youth and the memories that the music had helped to create. But it wasn’t just the dads who were enjoying the show – the younger fans were just as enthusiastic, and it was clear that the Inspiral Carpets’ music had lost none of its appeal over the years.
The band’s musical style is difficult to categorise, but it can best be described as a blend of punk, pop and psychedelic rock. Their music is characterised by catchy melodies, driving rhythms and Hingley’s distinctive vocals, which have a raw, emotive quality that perfectly captures the energy and spirit of the era in which they emerged.
As the band moved through their set, playing classic tracks such as “Two Worlds Collide” and “Dragging Me Down”, it was impossible not to be swept up in the music. The crowd danced, sang and cheered, creating a sense of community and connection that is all too rare in the modern world.