Friday, 14 March 2008

LIVE REVIEW: Supergrass, 14 Mar, Liquid Rooms

Ah Britpop... how we rejoiced in its Loaded-reading, binge-drinking, coke-snorting, tracksuit-wearing, mockney knees-up aping, Kensit-fucking culturalism. And, while we're reminiscing, let’s not fail to mention the bands who flew the flag of Blighty so proudly around the globe for her majesty. Who could possibly forget the ear-pleasing pleasures of Echobelly, Sleeper, Menswear, Northern Uproar, Cast and Kula Shaker? With such a smattering of razor-sharp, life-affirming acts on offer it's nae wonder the Union Jack-draped genre was the apple of New Labour’s twinkling eye.

In hindsight, it was all a bit gash wasn’t it? But the era did have a few redeeming qualities, a number of joyous nuggets with which memory cells could erase the cack that accompanied them in order to accentuate only the positives. And there were none more celebrated than spunk-bubbling rapscallions Supergrass – a band whose debut I Should Coco was so awash with contagious post-pubescent pop it single-handedly spawned a generation of bum-fluffed sideboard bearers who were young, free and ever-so sparkly of tooth.

Fast forward 13 years and the ‘Grass are five albums down with another on the way, and as the Liquid Rooms fills to the brim there’s the distinct sense of feel-good revivalism in the air tonight. Judging by the booze-swollen bellies, much of the crowd have seen it, done it and bought the Knebworth T-shirts but, refreshingly, the wide-eyed gleam of adolescence still lurks down front, reminding those with sceptical minds that Gaz, Danny and Mick (the original line-up, joined here by Gaz’s two siblings Charly and Rob) still represent a draw for today’s scampish hipsters.

Hurling into the sleazy Zeppelin-esque sludge-fest of recent single ‘Diamond Hoo Ha Man’, the quintet kick off with an intent that suggests the cheeky-chappy charm of old is long gone, replaced by adulthood's stern focus - and it’s undoubtedly to their detriment. Despite the intensity of it’s motorway surging riffage, the track feels like a foray into the mill-running pastures of 'has been'-ism and with the proceeding run of well-executed - but ultimately dreary – blues-soaked newbies biting the dust without a trace of enjoyment on either side of the stage it seems the end could soon be nigh for the Oxford born ensemble.

But over the years Supergrass have continually proven to be stellar storm-weatherers and with the thinner-thatched but still cherubically cheeked Gaz Coombes at the helm there’s always gonna be the chance of a defeat-sparing renaissance. And once free-spirited, organ-sliding jaunt ‘Brecon Beacons’ sprints from the blocks those lovable, tail-wagging pups of the ‘90s suddenly re-emerge. The tombstone frowns and static stances are immediately replaced with monkey-toothed grins and a sprightly skip that punctures through the wriggling floor-cutting of ‘Moving’ and ‘Sun Hits The Sky’ before honking a big fuck me we’re still good horn with the inanely infectious set finale ‘Pumping On Your Stereo’.

Whipped into a frenzy by each break-neck dash of good-time indie-poppery, a rejuvenated crowd holler for their idols’ stage-side return and – worryingly – the last-gasp huzzah of ‘Alright’. Thankfully, the band think better of it and although two-thirds of the encore incites little more than a sea of tolerant head-nodding the closing candy-hearted rumpus ‘Caught By The Fuzz’ provides one last demonstration of just how intoxicating a live act Supergrass can be.

Britpop’s sun may have set long ago but there were times tonight where a wee part of you wished it never had.

Rating: 6/10

First published here

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