Multi-talented singer songwriter Alan Fish is a familiar face on the North East live scene and in recent years The Attention Seekers have, in spite of their inappropriate name, quietly gone about the business of building a loyal and knowledgeable fan base.
This collection of live favourites, unique takes on the band's favourite Alan Hull compositions and a spirited new recording of Loud Guitars' Out Of Me brings their sound and vision bang up to date with a typically understated cool.
... Fish's no-frills guitar work is reassuringly heartfelt (check out Water) and there's a familiarly warm tone to the best of the band's folk rock interpretations.
Should The Attention Seekers actively pursue a more visible platform in the future who knows where this wonderful band might end up? In an age of processed reality television pap, Fish and his mates prefer plain and simple reality.
Simon Rush, RUSHONROCK, 20 Oct 2013
"i just wanted to say that i love your version of the song and think the rest of the album is great too. i especially like the tracks 'jesamine', 'passing ships' and 'the water'. great vocals, guitars and everything! all the best, gary"
Gary Nuttall, writer of 'Often' and Robbie Williams' guitar player, via email 31 Jul 2007
"If you are ready for a change form the usual and you are free next Sunday afternoon (24th June) I recommend a trip to the Maggie Bank in North Shields to see this lot and enjoy a pint or two of real ale. Kick off 4pm. (Sadly I can't make it as I am up Tunstall Hills yet again, this time looking at wild flowers.) I therefore made the trip through to West Moor to see them yesterday and I wasn't disappointed. Even the band themselves struggle to describe their genre of music but it encompasses some Alan Hull songs, some rocked up versions of traditional folk and many of their own compositions which range from amusing, enlightening, spiritual and thought provoking to challenging, moving and hide me under the table while my life history is told stuff. The band includes bass, drums, acoustic guitars, keyboards, harmonica and electrified violin with superb harmonies and one of the most hauntingly gorgeous voices I've ever heard up front from Simon Reece. The current set list includes a soulful version of 'I Don't Like Mondays', 'Coz I Luv You' and an instrumental version of 'The Water Is Wide', but telling you this wont do them justice at all because they just HAVE to be heard and truly, their own compositions are the best. I defy anyone to be disappointed."
Bz. Review as posted on Big Ginger Gits Gig Pit, 18 Jun 2007
"The Tyneside based band have just released their third album, From Here, and it is a thing of real beauty.
Since 2002, The Attention Seekers have quietly gone about their business and have steadily built up a dedicated fan-base, and it's easy to see why. I mean, who couldn't love these songs? Featuring Col Roberts (bass), Alan Fish (guitar, piano, backing vocals), Simon Reece (vocals, guitar, piano), John Miller (drums), Sarah Fish (piano, violin) and John Leslie (vocal, harmonica), the band effortlessly meld together to produce finely wrought ballads and classic toe-tappers which have the ability to instantly lodge themselves into your head (and heart) and stay there. And like a very fine wine, they just seem to get better and better and From Here, their third album, is testament to the fact that great songwriting will never go out of fashion".
GM, The Crack, #213, March 2006
"The band kicked off with 'Often' (Nuttall) from their album From Here this was a great day for original material, having witnessed Mosaics great performance earlier in the day, and in Simon Reece they have a vocalist of considerable talent. You could listen to this guy all day long.
Next up was 'Shoot It All Down' (Geldof) from their album Don't Say a Word and this time taking the Main Vocal was John Leslie. This band really is spoilt for choice with singers and when Alan and Sarah come in on backing there are some truly superb harmonies.
The third song again an original number 'Heart Of Stone' (Fish) featured Simon and John on vox and what a great blend of voices.
Alan Hull's 'Call Of The Wild' came next with Sarah swapping from keyboards to violin giving a new dimension to the sound ably supported by John and Col in the rhythm section and once again a wonderful vocal by Simon.
The band donated 10 copies of their album From Here which were rapidly snapped up by the audience at £10 a shot and another £100 was added to the fund raising total. And so the next song was the title track 'From Here' followed by 'Alison Jones' also from the album and with John taking over main vocal duties from Simon. John is also an excellent vocalist and an excellent harmonica player and many of the songs are interspersed with tasteful licks and fills.
I bought the From Here album and it is real quality with some seriously good songs and arrangements. 'Money' (Fish) Main Vocal – Simon Reece from that album was followed by 'Beautiful City' (Fish/Leslie) from the album Don't Say A Word on which Simon is joined by John on main vocals and on the strength of this I need to get that album too.
Another Alan Hull song 'Crooked Mile' followed and you can get an indication of what this band sounds like from the selection of two Hull songs in this set.
Alan then made apologies to any Wishbone Ash fans for the next song but he needn't have 'Jailbait' by Wishbone Ash done acoustically with violins and harmonica worked amazingly well. It's nice to hear a song taken totally out of its original context and reworked like this. Top marks to someone for spotting the possibilities in that number. The Wishbone Ash fans were ecstatic.
The final song was again a brilliant reworking of the Slade classic 'Coz I Luv You' (Holder/Lea) so suited to the sound of the band and giving Sarah the opportunity to shine through on violin.
As I said after they had finished their set there is only one word to describe The Attention Seekers – QUALITY.
They could have played all day.
We would have listened all day."
"Anyone who can recall early 1980s Newcastle rockers White Heat probably remembers, as I do, that the band in question were agreed to be a blistering live act. Sadly, they never really lived up to their potential. And they didn't' get the breaks that they deserved either, unfortunately. The Attention Seekers feature three former members of that group, but it's an altogether more sedate, acoustic-based affair this time around. Simon Reece's yearning lead vocal has echoes of Neil Young and Elvis Costello. And there are some beautiful piano, harmonica and violin flourishes throughout the album. Musically then, this is a very different ballgame from White Heat. But the song-writing is as well structured as it was back then, and that's what really counts."
Ettrick Scott, Sunday Sun, 19 Feb 2006
"MADE IN NEWCASTLE: It is sometimes difficult to guess what has grown quicker: The Attention Seekers' fan base or their line up. Now boasting five full time members, the band packed out the atmospheric Blue Bell in Jesmond Vale. Having established themselves as a duo, founder members John Leslie and Alan Fish (formerly White Heat and The Loud Guitars), have recruited the talents of Col Roberts (Bass), Simon Reece (Guitar, Piano, Vocal) and Sarah Fish who provided very impressive accompaniment on piano and especially violin.
Dividing their lengthy set into two halves the band delved into some of their older Fish/Leslie material from the album Misunderstood, newer material from the excellent 2003 album Don't Say a Word and let us in on some of their brand new songs and tastefully chosen covers. The Attention Seekers exude a musical confidence that sees members frequently swapping instruments throughout their set, showcasing a wide range of talents to support the strength of their self-written material.
A rich acoustic sound is what this band is all about and an undoubted first half highlight was 'Down at The Mayfair', a song that welds a tale of the former popular Newcastle nightspot to Mott the Hoople's 'All the Young Dudes'. Indeed the city of Newcastle appears to provide the band with some of their strongest influences. References to Westerhope and Callerton could pass over the heads of strangers but provided the local audience with a great sense of familiarity. Nowhere is the city more apparent than in their calling card, 'Beautiful City' an always rapturously received ode to the town, that receives frequent play at St James Park. Indeed from the unmistakable harmonica intro, Beautiful City is as essentially Newcastle as Alan Shearer at the Gallowgate End or a bottle of Brown Ale in Rosies.
The Fish/Leslie song writing influences appear to be varied, ranging from likes of The Who (their version of Behind Blue Eyes should be sent Fred Durst as an example of how to cover a classic), to The Beautiful South. A notable moment was their re-working of the Boomtown Rats' song 'I Don't like Mondays' re-titled 'Shoot it All Down', which the Attention Seekers have moulded into their own style.
This was a performance of a great deal of good material and new songs under development, and it may soon be the case that the band outgrows venues such as this (unless the Bell get an annexe built). A great local band, who I strongly recommend you check out if you get the chance."
David Graham, local journalist, edited version appears in The Crack, #193, June 2004
"No frills, but plenty of thrills from this classy local band. With a traditional guitar, bass, keyboards style ensemble, they manage to achieve the hardest thing in rock/pop; that is, to write absolutely corking tunes. Ballads such as 'Last one To Know' glow with pure songwriting nous, while songs such as 'Beautiful City' (a paean of love to Newcastle) display their undoubted ability to play with passion. Seek 'em out."
CC, The Crack, #190, March 2004
"Alan Fish is a seasoned musician who has graced the stage with White Heat and the Loud Guitars, both 'high energy' rock acts. This time around Alan has gone the quieter route and the word about his band 'The Attention Seekers' is getting around.
Being New Year's Eve... we got something we really knew, a beautifully crafted version of 'Hate To See You Cry' (Alan Hull)... 'Sunshine on Leith' (the Proclaimers hit). The second set continued in the same vein until Pete Townsend's 'Behind Blue Eyes' and Alan Fish's own clever guitar arrangement of 'Bring Me Sunshine' (and it did). The band encored with 'Nutrocker'. This is a good band... building a strong following... they have cracking songs such as 'Anybody Out There', 'Lonely Avenue' and their popular 'Down At The Mayfair'.
The Attention Seekers strength is in their musical ability...
...The audience, they loved it..."
cj, Get Rhythm 2, Vol 1, Issue 6, February 2004
"After a few listens, I've decided that this album deserves more space than I'm giving it. Alan Fish, who you may know from White Heat and The Loud Guitars, has returned with a far more acoustic set and a new writing/singing partner, John Leslie. Produced down at The Cluny Studios with input from Tony Davis, keyboards and Alan's old pal from t'Heat, Bryan Younger. Fish and Leslie must be delighted at the results. The opening track 'Don't Say A Word' locks you in, in a Beatle-ish kind of way. 'Last One To Know' ties in the old, not often heard unfortunately, 'Answer Me'. It's a very 70s acoustic album, delicate, songs with a narrative and simple harmonies. It's the simplicity and gentle rolling acoustic guitar lines that tie the whole thing together. According to Comet spies, the duo are now a band and gigging now. I can image that they silence the crowd with gentle persuasion. If you're into gentle acoustics, who isn't?, this is for you. The spies say they are 'hot' live."
cj, Holley's COMET, Vol 1 No 4, November 2003
"Come and see the Attention Seekers - well loved acoustic veterans of the Newcastle scene, whose single 'Beautiful City' has become an unofficial anthem for Newcastle United."
Acoustic Circus, October 2003
"I'm here for the launch of the Attention Seekers' new CD Don't Say A Word at the Blue Bell Inn, Jesmond Vale (gem of a venue folks). It's 8:20PM on Saturday 20th September and I've just heard the most professional sound check ever in a pub environment. Wished I had a tape running to record the event.
Last time I saw the Attention Seekers they were a duo with Alan Fish on acoustic guitar and backing vocals and John Leslie on lead vocals and mouth harp. Tonight they've expanded to a 5-piece with the addition of Col Roberts (bass), Simon Reece (acoustic guitar, piano and vocals) and introducing Sarah Fish [pictured] (Alan's daughter) on piano and violin.
By 9 O'clock the house was full and the Attention Seekers kicked off with a new song 'Callerton Rose' about their home territory of Westerhope in fine style! By the 7th number I was singing along to Fish/Leslie originals I'd never heard before, beautiful melodies and catchy hooks get me every time. Simon took over on piano for 'Precious Skin' and 'Away From You' from the Attention Seekers' first album 'Misunderstood', before Sarah came back to finish off an impressive first set with the piano instrumental 'Nutrocker'. Roll over Keith Emerson!
After copious refreshment and informed banter the second act commenced with Alan and Simon demonstrating some nifty fretwork with an impressive arrangement of 'Bring Me Sunshine'. This was followed by a moving version of my fave Hully song 'Hate To See You Cry' with Simon taking over from John on lead vocals for this one.
John then returned to the stage for the vocal highlight so far, a sensational rendition of a Proclaimers' song 'Sunshine on Leith'. For information, Alan now on piano and Sarah on exquisite violin, hmm, hmm.
Several beautiful melodies and harmonies later and we are into what turned out to be my favourite song of the night 'Down at the Mayfair/All the Young Dudes'. 'City Tavern, Old George and The Man In The Moon, afghan coats in the middle of June' ah, those days of unashamed nostalgia. They finished off with a very imaginative version of an old Townsend chestnut 'Behind Blue Eyes'.
Then two songs to encore with. Surprise guest time... Tony Davies of The Cluny Studios on piano, expanding to a 7-piece for the finale of the night with extra vocals supplied by the nights MC Allen plus Sarah on violin. Four voices in harmony encouraging the crowd to join in with the Attention Seekers' anthem 'Beautiful City'. All too soon it was the end of a beautiful gig of wondrous acoustic music and sensational harmonies guaranteed to get your feet tapping and NOT leave you deafened. Catch them next time they are in your area, you won't be disappointed; needless to say I bought the CD."
Allen Crawford, September 2003
"John Leslie and Alan Fish's latest offering is an album filled with beautiful melodies, stunning harmonies and the renowned Fish/Leslie cover versions. The haunting tune of the title track 'Misunderstood' is an effective contrast to the angry guitar chords of 'Precious Skin'. One of the best tracks is 'Away From You'. The simplicity of the lyrics is combined with a basic melody to create the most heartfelt song on the album. A favourite show-opener of the Attention Seekers is the track 'The Summer Sun'. It is easy to see why, due to the catchy tune and beautiful harmonies.
'Beautiful City' captures the spirit of Newcastle upon Tyne on a Saturday night. A favourite at Newcastle United football matches, the harmonies and pipe give an effective traditional feel to a catchy modern melody. Of course, the album is rounded off with the typical Fish/Leslie covers in the form of 'Shoot It All Down (I Don't Like Mondays)' and an instrumental version of 'Bring Me Sunshine'. Both show off Fish and Leslie's unique style and talent as seen in their live sets.
A must for all Attention Seekers fans."
Sarah Judd, 2002