THEY were the first band two distinctly underage Jarman brothers saw live before being chucked out of the old Players Club.
Now, after a rapturously-received comeback when they were invited to support The Cribs at their Theatre Royal show, Retarded Fish are playing strictly one more time.
The semi-legendary city punk band hadn’t performed together since 1996 when they took to the stage in May – but they enjoyed it so much and caused such a stir that they’re staging a final farewell at The Hop on September 7.
It was a constant drip-drip of hints and persuasion that led to the Cribs date, as drummer Dan Stringer recalled.
He said: “I moved back here from Manchester about a year ago, at the same time as Ryan from The Cribs came back to Wakefield, and we’d meet and chat over a few beers.
“Ryan was talking about doing a 10th anniversary gig and kept suggesting we might get back together but I reckoned it was just talk, it would never happen.”
That changed in February this year, when Gary Jarman made a more direct approach and asked if Retarded Fish would support The Cribs on a short tour.
“We hummed and haahed a bit and nothing came of it,” said bass player Greg Jones, recruited from Retarded Fish contemporaries Homegrown. “Then when they were out on tour, they tweeted that they were listening to us in their van, then they told Steve Lamacq the same thing in a radio interview.”
Dan continued: “The week after, we went to see them after a gig in Leeds and they were playing Retarded Fish in the dressing room. We weren’t going to get away with it, so eventually we said ‘yes, we’ll do it’ and that was that!”
The first rehearsals as a four-piece, with Andrew Jarvis on vocals and Sam Smyth on guitar, were, in Greg’s words, “loads of fun” – an attitude they took out on to the Theatre Royal stage and which rubbed off on the crowd.
“It was very encouraging that people gave us such a warm reception,” said Greg. “There were people from Scotland tweeting we were the best support band they’d seen: a massive surprise.”
The band were offered a couple of gigs straight afterwards but, owing to other commitments and ‘Jarv’ not being entirely convinced of his merits as frontman, they declined them.
However, conscious of demand – and that many old fans were unable to get tickets for the Cribs show – they took the decision to play one last gig.
It looks to have been justified, too. “We’ve people coming from all over the country,” said Dan. “There’s a girl coming from Aberdeen, who saw us at The Cribs show. It’s all very humbling.”
Among their supports will be members of the city’s old and new waves, the former represented by Protectors, featuring Chris Charlton of Pylon and Chopper fame, while Imp will fly the flag for what both Dan and Greg reckon is one of the best crops of new Wakefield bands for years.
It should be quite a night, so grab a ticket while you can: £4 from The Hop or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org