IT'S A FROG'S LIFE!

The ex-[a]Black Grape[/a] rapper sings at the band's comeback show in Brighton...

KERMIT, former rapper and singer with Black Grape, joined Bentley Rhythm Ace onstage for one show-stealing song at the band's comeback gig at Brighton's Concorde last night (April 26).

The singer, real name Paul Leveridge, performed the old school ska-flavoured 'How'd I Do Dat' from BRA's forthcoming second album 'For Your Ears Only', due for release on May 29 through Parlophone.

It was Kermit's first onstage appearance since leaving Black Grape almost two years ago, and it was Bentley's first gig for more than a year.

The band steered largely clear of material from 1997's 'Bentley Rhythm Ace', preferring to showcase new material. The promised new stage set didn't completely materialise due to space constraints. The Bentley car that has been a figure before has disappeared, though the air-raid siren remains.

Kermit will rejoin BRA when the tour proper kicks off in Belfast on May 27, and seems certain to become more of a feature in the live set - though BRA say he hasn't officially joined the band just yet.

"We're going to build up what he's doing as time goes on," BRA guitarist and DJ Mike Stokes told nme.com last night. "He has also recorded another track on the album ('A Lot Of Stick But Not Much Carrot') and that will come out as well. At the minute we're still feeling our way a little. It's been a while since we played, so time will tell how everything's going to go. We've had a great new lighting set designed as well, but there just wasn't room for it tonight."

Stokes revealed the band selected Kermit as a guest vocalist after working through a few names.

He admitted, "We asked a few people. We asked the Beastie Boys, but they said they were too busy. They let us remix one of their tracks though."

Kermit himself hasn't ruled out a more permanent place in the band, though is working on other projects himself.

He revealed, "I'm working with Jed, the drummer from Black Grape and the guitarist Wags on a thing called Big Dog. We're just going through ideas so we'll see what happens."

It seems unlikely that he will team up again with former Black Grape leader Shaun Ryder.

He said, "I really don't think that is going to happen. I wouldn't say there was a falling out - a lot of people said we fell out - but people just drift apart and want to do other things. I haven't seen Shaun in a while. I'm glad to be doing this thing now. Bentleys are good lads, you know."

The full dates for the forthcoming BRA tour are as follows: Belfast Empire Music Hall, (May 27) Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms (30)Cardiff Coal Exchange (31) Manchester University (June 1);Liverpool Mountford Hall (2)Glasgow Garage (3) Newcastle Foundation (4);Leeds Metropolitan University (5) Bristol Rock (7) London Astoria (8) Sheffield Leadmill (10)Cambridge Junction (11)Wolverhampton Wulfrun (13) Norwich Waterfront (14)

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