Rewind back to episode 5 of the podcast and not only will you find the last time we all managed to get in the same room, you’ll find us all selecting our “best local bands that nearly made it”. The “nearly” tag knocked any thoughts of The Verve, and brought thoughts of including The Tansads and possibly even The Railway children in the mix. Whilst the “local” tag allowed a controversial amount of leeway, with bands from St Helens, Skem and Leigh coming into consideration.
Before we move on to the main show. Our guest on the evening, Joe Curran, took a free-pass on picking a Wigan band and went for Tea Street Band predecessors The Maybes?
Jimmy went for Blue Vinyl (the band that later became The Glassheads) and Ian went for Garna (but only because his mate was the lead singer). Chris, Dylan and Alan would probably have all gone for the same band, but ended up going with Moco, Witness and The Loungs to keep up the variety.
Plenty of other names were thrown into the mix both by the podcast team and our friends on social media with our select panel having to put, erm, some thought into whittling the nominations down into something we could run a poll on. So much work that we ended up with a list of sixteen teams that we split into four groups, eat your heart out UEFA.
Group one contained early favourites, Moco. They’d recently reformed for a one-off good-bye gig so were in ripe form. Up against them were Ian’s pick Garna, The VCs (Joe Oxley from the “electro sci-fi, surf pop” band is currently recording as TV:AM) and controversially (because they’re still going) The Dead Shores.
The victory was Corbyn-esque, Moco romping away with 60% of the vote leading to the dissolution of the group as a whole, The Dead Shores clinging on to move into the semi-finals with them in John Mcdonnell style.
First into group 2 were a nomination from Mudhuts veteran @freestylefinton. I use the word veteran if only to protect him from criticism for selecting 70s favourites Rainbow Cottage. The podcast pick was The Loungs, who are admittedly from St Helens, but have long standing connections with the Wigan Music scene through the Lupine set-up. Completing the four were noiseniks The Susukis and dark horses Fleck.
The group went clearly to form with The Suzukis gaining some promotion from their old record company and sailing through to the next round, taking The Loungs with them.
In every big tournament there’s that group that ends up being the most entertaining because it’s got none of the fancied teams in it. Group 3 was that in our search for the “best local group that nearly made it”. Witness, The Layne, Maladies of Belefontaine and The Troubadours hacking it out in a close run competition.
Again, the money told, with The Troubadours and Witness outmuscling “the other two”, with the Scousers just edging first place.
First into Group 4 was the first pick from the podcast, Jimmy’s choice of Blue Vinyl being extended to include their successors The Glassheads. The same privilege wasn’t extended to Tansads, primarily because Merry Hell are still going, but also because we forgot. Making up the numbers here were the “wiped from the internet” Money and the Masses and the “how much did Chris get paid for getting his brother’s band in the poll” Free Mojo.
As unsurprising but not as overwhelming as the Group 1 result, Tansads strolled into the semis with Blue Vinyl riding their coat tails.
If you’ve been counting and know anything about twitter polls, you’ll have guess that left us with eight semi-finalists split into two groups of four. The winners of the odd groups taking on the second placed in the evens and vice versa. With the top four teams going through to the final, pre-tournament favourites Moco and Tansads were still looking strong.
Moco’s strong showing in the group stages left people thinking this group was a case of who would come second. However, a mixture of complacency and a strong showing from Blue Vinyl meant the group was a lot closer than expected.
Strong showings from outsiders (in more ways than one) The Loungs and The Troubadours giving the final placings a very balanced look and sending Alan into a sulk as his choice noise dived from the competition at the expense of Jimmy’s.
The close running in the first semi (probably) perked up attention amongst the other contenders. These four may have been thinking the final was a done deal, but suddenly they had anything to play for and with Tansads having the backing of a certain age-group and The Suzukis now properly backed by Deltasonic you could excuse them for thinking they were really in with a chance.
Another of our “expert’s” picks fell by the wayside in the face of this heavy artillery, with Witness coming in third, somewhat hampered by the fact that singer Gerard Starkie had completely missed the poll. The Dead Shores being but out of their misery, finishing a long way back in fourth.
So, there we had it. The four bands that would slug it out to the death in a battle to find the best local band that never made it included two of the podcast picks, a band that had included Latics media-man Ed Jones and one backed by, probably, the biggest record label in Liverpool. Talk was now that early tournament favourites Moco could be usurped by The Suzukis and could end up battling Tansads for second place.
No one was talking about Blue Vinyl, or The Glassheads, not even “The Man on the Street” (with apologies to the pun police)
In the end, the early money proved right. Tansads and The Suzukis running neck and neck for a while, whilst Ste Jones and the boys romped home for a deserved win. We’d try to get them to play one last gig and receive their award, but we can’t afford the airfare to get Ste back from Spain, oh, and we’ve not got a trophy either.
But all the same, well done to Moco, I hope you enjoyed “the journey”.
Oh, and before I go. I’ve done a playlist with some of the bands mentioned above on it, just to celebrate “the best” of Wigan music. You can find it on our mixcloud page. I hope you enjoy that too.