Live Video: The Chameleons Vox

photo by Jackie Canchola (view more)

Although they never really rose above cult status, or were featured in an iconic John Hughes film, or saw great international success like some of their contemporaries, few U.K. bands of the ’80s have been as influential as The Chameleons. Their darkly moody atmosphere, their nostalgic and even defiant lyrics courtesy of Mark Burgess, and particularly their lush guitar melodies by dual guitarists Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding have perhaps had a greater impact on the sound of bands like Interpol, Editors, and The Horrors than even Joy Division did. Certainly, Seattle bands like Romance and Black Nite Crash and many others acknowledge their sound in their own music, and they’ve gathered some of the most loyal fans of any band.

Unfortunately, though, The Chameleons released only three studio albums before imploding after the death of their manager, Tony Fletcher (see the resulting Tony Fletcher Walked on Water… La La La La La-La La-La-La EP for songs that could have been on the following album). Among the many posthumous albums released since, full of unreleased songs, live versions, and outtakes, the members of the band came back to release one more album of new material, Why Call It Anything?, in 2001 and even toured the U.S., but soon after The Chameleons were again no more.

Fortunately, songwriter Mark Burgess and drummer John Lever continued on amid their various side projects and last year reformed as The Chameleons Vox in order to perform songs from their back catalog live. For the U.S. leg the tour, Lever was unable to attend, but with a new band consisting of Justin Lomery and Andru Aesthetik on guitar, Jessica Espeleta on bass, and Glenn Maryansky on drums, Mark Burgess stopped by the KEXP studios to rip through Chameleons’ classics “Monkeyland,” “In Shreds,” “Up the Down Escalator,” and a fan favorite that they never used to play live, “In Answer.” Check out the videos here:

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  1. Mark
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Unbelieveable videos from KEXP, wonderful clarity and sound and what superb performances by Mark and his band…so happy the NW is getting to see the 2010 version of Chameleons VOX,

  2. stuart arentzen
    Posted September 24, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    i remember up the down escalator ringing over the old kcmu airwaves when it was brand new (83), and how my jaw dropped and i laughed out loud and was shaking at how amazing it was. i was immediately on a mission to score this incredible record, which i couldn’t find for quite too long a while! i remember asking the one guy at one of the record conventions who might have had a clue, and he tried to sell me a smiths record of course rather. (speaks volumes of what our chameleons were up ‘gainst at the time). anyway i did finally find this gorgeous import (script of the bridge) with it’s beautiful soft papery cover within a month or two i suppose (a year or so before it came out here as “UK”, and have been dutifully championing it among anyone i can, since. i attended the moore theater show in 87 which was a bit of a debacle with bad and eventually thrown all about the stage monitors, and have looked forward to the show we saw at the croc. the other night ever since! thanks mark burgess and chameleons vox for a really great night!

  3. Rich
    Posted October 7, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

    Mark never dissapoints. I have seen him with the Chameleons, the Sons Of God, Bird, solo acoustic, a bunch of fans backing him up, and as Chameleons Vox. Incredible every fucking time. Such purity and passion in their music.

  4. fernandes joao
    Posted October 8, 2010 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    magnifique . france . paris

  5. Chris
    Posted October 9, 2010 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    Magnificent. What a great performance. Never again another band touched so my soul as the sound of The Chameleons.

  6. Mario
    Posted October 25, 2010 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Genial, tras la separaciĆ³n de Dave y Reg por fin han conseguido un buen sonido.

    Espero poder escucharlos en Madrid.

    Un saludo, desde EspaƱa

  7. Julie Hagan
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Just revisted The Chameleons after what seems like an eternity,In Shreds still sends shivers down my spine

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