In the early 1980s Manchester’s music scene was a cauldron of talent – a melting pot of styles, sounds and personalities all looking to make their mark as a new generation of bands and singers emerged. Very much part of this musical soup were The Chameleons, a four piece group born and bred in Manchester. Formed in 1981 the band comprised of Mark Burgess on lead vocals and bass, Dave Fielding and Reg Smithies on guitar and drummer John Lever.
Forerunners of the “Madchester” scene of the late 1980s, which spawned such bands as The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and James, The Chameleons laid the early foundations of what was to become a music revolution. The band’s diverse sound, stage persona and musical message set the tone for a new generation of groups and was also known as a personal favourite of legendary Radio 1 DJ John Peel.
Filmed at London’s Camden Palace on 9th of November 1984 as part of the Live From London series, this concert captured the band in their prime. The setlist was mostly focusing on material from their 1983′ debut album Script Of The Bridge and its follow-up, What Does Anything Mean? Basically, which was still nearly a year away from release at this point.
Critically acclaimed, yet criminally overlooked, The Chameleons should have been destined for fame and stadium sellout shows. Their powerful, yet melodic sound was a combination of singer Mark Burgess’ powerful voice and bass, paired with John Lever’s pounding drums. Over this, Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding laid haunting guitars, intertwined and complimenting each other to create a unique sound that was very much their own. Many bands have cited The Chameleons as an influence, yet due to various unfortunate events and circumstances, they never broke into the mainstream themselves.
Whilst perhaps not as recognised or acclaimed as many of the other Manchester-based bands, there can be little doubt that The Chameleons helped forge a new age of British rock during their time. This gig, in particular, should be considered a historical document of one of Manchester and the UK’s greatest bands of the 1980s.