The reformed Undertones roll back the years as the sun shines on the London Fleadh...

The FEARGAL SHARKEY-free Undertones won over thousands of sun-scorched music fans yesterday (June 10) as the LONDON festival season kicked off with the capital’s IRISH celebration, the FLEADH.

The band had come in for a sideswipe from their former frontman, who sarkily declared his “healthy disrespect for ageing pop stars”. But the thousands of fans packed into Finsbury Park certainly didn’t share his opinion.

Speaking to nme.com after the gig, substitute singer Paul McCloone, lead singer with Derry band The Carolines responded to Feargal‘s comments: “That’s his opinion and I respect that. They [the original band members] wanted to do it and he doesn’t. We are here to prove there is life in The Undertones yet.”

McCloone defended his warbling, Sharkey-esque singing style: “I’m not trying to sound like Feargal. If I do sound similar, it’s because we’re from the same place and I’m singing the same songs.”

Adding that he would love to do more of the festivals and gig throughout the summer, McCloone said: “It’s not a hobby as such, but we’re not giving up the day jobs. We’ll just wait and see.”

Prior to The Undertones’ set, Prefab Sprout‘s Paddy McAloon charmed the laid-back mid-afternoon crowd, quipping that they had wanted a helicopter to bring them in but headliners The Corrs and The Undertones had nabbed the best ones, so his stealth bomber was parked out the back. His announcement that it was his 43rd birthday last week “and not one of you sent me a card” was greeted with a chorus of “Happy Birthday To You” from the faithful, and the band responded with a warm, banter-strewn set.

But the entire site really started jumping when The Undertones arrived on stage. They romped through their greatest pop-punk moments – setting the agenda with ‘Here Comes The Summer’ and ‘Family Entertainment’ and tearing through ‘Teenage Kicks’, ‘Jimmy Jimmy’ – original fans slowly remembering how they used to pogo and rabid kids showing how it’s done today in the sprawling moshpit.

Headliners The Corrs rounded off a scorching day with a slick and unsurprisingly glossy set that included their hits ‘Run Away’, ‘What Can I Do’ and ‘So Young’, which despite the majority of their fans being not so young, had the by-then extremely well-oiled crowd swaying rapturously, arms aloft.