As any Stone Roses fan will know, some reunions are unexpected simply because bad blood between band members makes any public make-up beyond reasonable hope. For lesser known acts, you sometimes can’t imagine enough people remembering a group 20 or 30 years down the line to make it worthwhile.
The scratchy garage of Hulme’s Inca Babies was a distinctive presence around Manchester and beyond in the 80s, but their name disappeared from the public’s collective memory once they’d split at the end of that decade, numerous indie-charting albums and singles falling out of print until a solitary best-of crept out in 2006.
They’re back though, already on their second LP of twanging new songs (of which the most recent, last year’s moody ‘Deep Dark Blue’, is the superior) and here in Brighton for the first time since their 80s visits, courtesy of the promoters and bloggers at Horsham’s Isolation Records. It’s a busy night too, and when the band’s Harry Stafford dedicates the 30-year-old ‘The Interior’ to “Anyone who saw us in ’84 to ’86 at The Zap,” heads nod in recognition.
Singer and guitarist Stafford was always Inca Babies principal songwriter, elevated to frontman role midway through their initial run. He’s joined these days by two other Lancashire alumni, grinding A Witness bassist Vince Hunt and heavy-hitting Goldblade drummer Rob Haynes. The Birthday Party influence on the band’s earliest tracks is still apparent in their rapid, gargling delivery, while the new songs are leaner, more direct, Stafford summoning up psychobilly demons on his guitar and fixing the crowd with a manic stare.
It’s powerful and it’s punk. As the final clang of ‘Grunt Cadillac Hotel’ subsides, old fans rush up to shake Stafford’s hand. It’s great to see a forgotten band back on their own terms and thriving.
Green Door Store, Friday 14th June 2013
Words by Stuart Huggett
Photos by Samuel Sesemann @ Studio 85UK