Despite worries about missing the start of the gig we risked stopping off on the way to the Concorde for a quick couple at a tiny Kemptown pub on the way. We need not have worried, after a quick double take at the bar, I realised Graham and his band (including the opening act) were enjoying a quiet one behind me. Naturally my friends and I claimed to each other that we "didn't want to disturb them", i.e. we didn't have the balls to go and say "hello, good luck".
Opening tonight was Reunion Square, which is simply Toby, who is also Graham Coxon's bassist. He played several tracks on an electric acoustic guitar, which sounded quite good, especially "Some Of Us Have To Work", but perhaps not quite suited to a gig like this without a band behind him. However, www.myspace.com/reunionsquare reveals that with backing his songs sound really great.
Next were Leeds based Duels who seemed reasonable enough, but their songs were somewhat similar, although this is perhaps just a result of my not knowing their material. Single "Pressure On You" was a definite highlight though. They seem like a decidedly average indie band with nothing much to dislike or go mad for.
Graham Coxon continues to go from strength to strength in his solo work. He now has six albums to his name, which recently have become more tuneful whilst retaining quality, with his latest "Love Travels At Illegal Speeds" being, for me, his best yet. Tonight he treated us to what seemed like a huge setlist, playing most of the new album and several from the previous in the main set. "You & I", "I Can't Look At Your Skin" & "Don't Let Your Man Know" were all pulsating new gems, all worthy of future single releases, and the classic "Bittersweet Bundle Of Misery" was delivered spectacularly (excuse the pun), a song made for live performances. The songs were interspersed with small moments of gentle wit and wry smiles from a man you cannot help but love. It's so good to see someone with no ego or attempts to be a "rock star", yet whom you still know appreciates the audiences enthusiastic applauding. Every song was powerful, enjoyable and perfectly executed (apart from some Harmonica "technical issues"). With all his recent material out of the way, his encore was devoted to some of his older, fiercer and punkier numbers, including "People Of The Earth", "Who The Fuck?" and a speedily thrashed out cover of The Jam's "All Mod Cons". Keeping these separate was an inspired decision, making the encore a valid and distinctive section of the gig, rather than just a few randomly selected songs.
All in all, this was a superb gig from a guitar genius at his prime. He's so fantastic on his own that I didn't even have to mention Blu .
By Alan Smith