London Wembley Arena

Older readers may remember The Catherine Wheel as a shoegazing joke-butt of the early-'90s...

London Wembley Arena

Older readers may remember The Catherine Wheel as a shoegazing joke-butt of the early-'90s. Rob Dickinson and co have long since transformed themselves into a muscular hard rock unit, but if that sounds like good news, think again - 'cause tonight at Wembley Arena, the Wheel are as slick and soulless as the venue itself.





In fairness, gigs don't come much tougher than a support slot at The Smashing Pumpkins' final ever UK show, but Dickinson's performance is depressingly perfunctory, all ironic rock god poses and sarcastic falsettos. 'For Dreaming' is introduced as a song about "taking drugs and killing your pets", but of course it's nothing of the sort. You see, behind the watertight FM rock bluster, the sentiments of the Wheel's songs are hideously bland, and 'Gasoline''s insipid chorus ("I love gasoline") highlights their utter lack of inspiration. They even manage to ruin pugilistic new single 'Sparks Are Gonna Fly' with clownish dance moves and sour-grapes digs at the record company.





It's no surprise, then, when Dickinson announces that "this is the end for us," and introduces bruising set-closer 'Black Metallic' with the telling words, "This is the first song we wrote together as a band and, to be honest, I don't think we've bettered it." It's a dignified farewell, and let's hope he's not bluffing. The Catherine Wheel obviously don't care any more. Why should anyone else?



Niall O'Keefe

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