The Gig Cartel - Gig guide: The Undertones Manchester Academy

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The Undertones Manchester Academy

(featuring The Undertones, Neville Staple Band)

Venue: Manchester Academy

The Undertones emerged from Derry in 1976, the result of five friends (John O’Neill, Damian O’Neill, Feargal Sharkey, Billy Doherty and Michael Bradley) learning how to play basic rock and roll.

Even by the standards of that decade Derry was not the rock and roll capital of anywhere. With no live bands worth watching, they learned by listening to mail order records, reading one of the few copies of NME that made it to Derry but most of all from listening to John Peel’s wonderful show on BBC Radio One. Practicing in their bedrooms eventually led to the band recording John O’Neill’s ‘Teenage Kicks’ in 1978 on Terri Hooley's Good Vibrations label in Belfast. The legendary DJ John Peel received a copy and liked it so much he played it twice in a row on his radio show.

The Undertones signed with Sire Records and ‘Teenage Kicks’ was re-released, resulting in the band's first appearance on Top Of The Pops. Over the next five years, John O Neill, crafted further pop gems such as `Here Comes The Summer`, ‘Jimmy Jimmy`, `You’ve Got My Number (Why Don’t You Use It)’ and ‘Wednesday Week’ whilst Damian O’Neill and Michael Bradley contributed ‘My Perfect Cousin. They also recorded four highly acclaimed LPs. Indeed, they almost enjoyed the life of professional musicians. In 1983 Feargal Sharkey left the band to pursue a solo career and the remaining members decided to call it a day. The Undertones were to remain silent for the next sixteen years.

THE UNDERTONES – Part 2 - 1999 - 

In 1999 The Undertones reconvened, without Feargal Sharkey, to once again perform their two-minute, three and a half chord songs to a new generation of fans in Derry. Fellow Derryman Paul McLoone replaced Sharkey on vocals and his vocal prowess and electric onstage presence soon convinced any doubters that he was more than capable of doing the job.

Recent Years

2018 marked the 40th Anniversary of the release of their most influental and famous song, ’Teenage Kicks’.  On 21st April for Record Store Day 2018 the band released a Vinyl Singles Box Set containing the 13 x 7” original Undertones singles from the classic early period: 1978-1983.

Of this release Damian O’Neill says:

“The collective attitude of The Undertones to the magical power and influence of the humble 45rpm 7” single was always one of total reverence and respect. It really did matter. Back then in our Undertones world, a great single was even more important than the L.P it helped promote and getting on Top Of The Pops was the ultimate accolade that we were doing it right. And if you didn’t make it on TOTP’s, then there was always the next single.

Listening again to these 13 A and B sides, I hear a great pop group who

tried their best to be true to themselves and ultimately didn’t disappoint.”

2022 and 2023  saw The Undertones roaring back with an extensive  European an Uk tours  to promote the release of “ Dig What You Need“, on Dimple Discs. The album is a selection  o tracks (many remixed) from the post reformation Albums available on vinyl for the first time. There will be a matching CD and download release.

2024  will see The Undertones roaring back with an extensive  UK and European tour  to promote the release of  their very first LIVE ALBUM….hard to believe that the band has never released a live album. The album will include  selected  live tracks  performed by post 1999 line up with Paul McLoone on vocals. Release date is planned for Autumn 2024


“Highlights are almost too numerous to mention. There’s obviously ‘Teenage Kicks’ (dedicated by Michael Bradley “to the bride and groom”); ‘Jimmy Jimmy’, ‘Get Over You’, ‘Here Comes The Summer’, ‘True Confessions’, ‘More Songs About Chocolate And Girls’ (with drummer Billy Doherty all over his kit); not forgetting ‘My Perfect Cousin’. Quite frankly, The Undertones are probably the most fun you can have at a festival (or probably anywhere else) with your clothes on. If you don’t have an Undertones album, well there really is no excuse”….