Hebden Bridge Trades - 30th and 31st October 2019
You don't come across many gig announcements that make you immediately look at the date just to check it isn't the first day of April. Fewer still that make you contact the band's singer just to make sure this isn't some kind of enormous wind-up. If there was one gig we would have bet our house on never happening it was an Adorable reunion. We tentatively asked the question when interviewing Piotr Fijalkowski a few years ago (in the hope of staging such an event in Brighton) only to find his mind made up. "I can’t really see the point to be honest. My experiences of being in a band weren’t necessarily very enjoyable ones so I kinda fail to see the point of me going back and re-living that. You know, there were lots of tensions in the band and that’s all resolved now. We are in a position where all four of us can be in the room at the same time and there are no longer any issues, but it’s taken us fifteen years to get to that stage so why would I jeopardise that?"

It took a while to shake off our amazement before we got to work. Our plan was to nab tickets for Hebden Bridge, and then think about the London event. Luckily we managed to get the first, even with the show selling out in two minutes. A second Hebden Bridge show was arranged. Then a second London show ... and so it grew. We settled for both nights at Hebden Bridge as we had commitments in Manchester soon afterwards. It didn't take long to realise that virtually all of our friends and acquaintances had also piled in. For all of the band's doubts, we never had any. This was an event not to be missed. The chance to see Adorable live once again had to be seized with both hands and jabbered about excitedly. Around the world flights were booked. Around the country train tickets were bought and hotel rooms reserved. You could almost taste the excitement. We were counting the days.

The fantastic Trades Club at Hebden fills slowly and the atmosphere remains a little surreal. People from every corner of the country and from across the world have gathered in a small Yorkshire town to witness something none of them can believe is really happening. Of course Adorable have no support band, but show an arty film instead. Few people actually bother to watch it because they are already living something far stranger. Questions are flying around. What will be the first song the band plays after twenty-five years of silence? We should have known. It had to be Adorable's biggest mistake, 'I'll Be Your Saint', the single that had them forever labelled in the media as arrogant tossers, but a great tune nonetheless. After walking on to the stage almost shyly, and certainly nervously, the band open up with Piotr framing the immortal words, "I'll be your saint, I'll wear a halo and I'll perform miracles." This really is hard to take in. Half of the audience go wild, half stand there a little stupefied.

There's no doubt the band are taking this carefully. They are desperate not to make mistakes and the concentration is clear to see. Guitarist Rob Dillam is the most relaxed; he bounds about as if he has been playing these tunes every day for the last twenty years and he's clearly enjoying himself. His hair, still long, is greyer and it flies about as he loses himself in time. Drummer Kev Gritton is also smiling. He looks as though he has barely aged since the band were last on stage and his playing is tight and disciplined. Wil and Piotr are more restrained. The bassist allows himself to rock backwards and forwards on occasion and has honed his death-stare to perfection as he eradicates the audience. Piotr hugs the mic. You can feel his focus, yet the concentration does not detract from the raw emotion on display here. He is refusing to let it penetrate too deeply in case it overwhelms him, all the more difficult when 'Vendetta' follows. "I'm upside down and back to front..." This is why Adorable have been silent, almost strangers, for decades, destroyed by the thing they loved.

'Favourite Fallen Idol' makes it three singles in a row at the start of the set which is well chosen and comprehensive. We hear 'Glorious', 'I Know You Too Well', 'Cut#2' and 'Breathless' from the band's majestic debut album, Against Perfection, and its follow-up, Fake, is not neglected either with 'Road Movie', 'Feed Me', 'Radio Days' and 'Submarine'. All of the singles are included as 'Sunshine Smile', 'Sistine Chapel Ceiling' and 'Kangeroo Court' are added to the mix, the latter again poignant on such a night as this.

After waving goodbye following the obvious set closer, 'Breathless', it doesn't take much persuading for Adorable to return with a three-song encore featuring the classic 'Crash Sight', the peerless 'Homeboy' and the emotional 'A To Fade In', a song so close to Piotr that he continues to play it at his non-Adorable gigs. It is here that the singer allows himself to open up a little more. He is more animated in 'Homeboy', his dark fringe flying above the trademark white leather jacket that has pleasingly reappeared for this event. The crowd sing along to every word. Most of them have been singing every word of every song. The whole building is bouncing. For all of their efforts to keep things solid and not cock it up, it probably wouldn't have mattered if Adorable had come on and whistled the hits of The New Seekers; they would have gone down a storm.

After the gig Piotr admits to relief that everything has gone so well. He won't say he enjoyed the experience but is happy nothing went wrong and is touched by the band's reception. Kev has certainly enjoyed it, but is pretty sure that after this short burst of gigs Adorable would not play again. "It's taken us so long to get our act together, we'll be too old before we manage to do it again!"

We leave the show elated but the second night at the Trades reveals how sensible it was for the band to have arranged more than just the two planned gigs. As it stood originally, Adorable would have gone to London on the back of an enjoyable, yet clearly controlled, performance in Yorkshire. The band may well have been wary of making mistakes again in the capital, whereas back at the same venue for a second go, they offer up a breathtaking performance. The confidence is obvious, the enjoyment spills over and the audience laps it up. Piotr is chatty. On the first night he only spoke three-quarters of the way through the set and only then because he was prompted by the audience. This time he natters away merrily, throws himself around the stage and lets loose with his vocals. This is how 'Homeboy' should be; voice straining, instruments thrashing and audiences crashing as the whole world ignites in a flame of passion, hope and pain. It's magical. It's what Adorable really are: a hard-cutting, painfully romantic, guitar band who can drag an audience over an emotional roller-coaster and leave them breathless and soiled at the end of the ride.

If the first night underlined how good Adorable were, the second showed how great they could be. It clearly demonstrated that the worst promoted band in the history of music were actually one of its brightest stars and how much of a travesty it was that it ended so badly. In doing that, these gigs served their purpose. Back in the last century Adorable crawled away to die, unloved, even by themselves. This time they went out in a blaze of glory, a fitting end. Wil admits they had relaxed after the relief of getting through the first night unscathed. When we meet Rob he punches his arms into the air as if celebrating a goal. "Sometimes you play gigs that you know have gone well," he says. "And sometimes you have gigs that you know have been even better than that. On a rare occasion you play a gig that you know has been even better than that. That's how it was tonight." He's right of course. Adorable were magnificent. Glorious. Only maybe more so.

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