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London SW7 Royal Albert Hall

[a]Morcheeba[/a] are [a]M-People[/a] with a [a]Fatboy Slim[/a] album...

Scientists call it The Beautiful South Syndrome, and here it is tonight in all its well-mannered finery, right down to the spotlighted Eric Clapton sweet-guitar-love solo and the mandatory session bloke introduction.



For one night only, while playing the Albert Hall, bands are officially allowed to be Dire Straits. Even Morcheeba - those sensible dubby funk soul brothers and sisters who sell records to smart young people with ironed combat trousers - have cleaned up their already sanitised act.



This is a special night though, one for the parents. A chance for singer Skye, swathed in paper-white robes, to revel in her band's pretty, designer joss-stick ambience, and for axe-hero Ross Godfrey to dedicate a squiddly blues scrape to his mother while smoking a fag before 'Trigger Hippie'. That's his pocket money stopped, then.



Sadly, that's as dangerous as it gets. But perhaps that's the whole point of Morcheeba: they're the slick commercial outfit who hid in the back of the trip-hop bandwagon while all the other pretenders were rumbled. And now it's too late: they've arrived with their melting pot of Ry Cooder slithering, fluffy hip-hop, velvet vocals and strings, coaxing the lighter-waving crowd into grim audience participation. A doe-eyed schmaltz through Gershwin's 'Summertime' gets the biggest cheer, while later everyone stares, embarrassed, as an orange-boilersuited member of New Kingdom gibbers over funky drumbreaks.



Morcheeba are M People with a Fatboy Slim album. Carry on up the charts, regardless, then.

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