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Mikey Graham: London Kashmir Club

Boyzone chubster Mikey Graham turns into a one-man Ocean Colour Scene. With guitar solos and EVERYTHING!

Mikey Graham: London Kashmir Club

Tonight we're venturing into really scary territory: the place where the Popstars go when the fleet of Porsche's are in the driveway and life as a pure pop idol has turned into a nightmare of endless
promo-tours of Outer Mongolia soundtracked by the tinnitus-inducing background noise of screaming eleven year old fans.

So, let's see how Mikey Graham (the, um, large one out of Boyzone, if you're new to this stuff) is shaping up to the task, shall we?

THE IMAGE!

Gone, needless to say, are the unravelled bow-ties and ill-fitting suits that once marked Boyzone out as five awkward looking best men at a multiple Dublin wedding reception. In their place, Mikey has opted for a gutsy, more street-level look of chic distressed denim and two-day stubble. Either that or he's come straight from the airport and not had time to change out of his civvies. Either way, it suits the mood of this scuzzy shoebox-sized cellar perfectly.

Verdict: a hit!

THE SONGS!

The big one. Mikey, obviously sick to the back-teeth of the schmaltzy balladeering that made him a global star, has gone for a radical new
direction first spotted last year with the release of his solo debut 'You're My Angel'. Yup, this time around it's super-slick Robbie-ish dadrock all the way, provided by a mob-handed five-piece band and two great gravel-throated girl singers. The large clunking sound you can hear throughout is the whole thing falling deafeningly between two stools.

Poor Mikey. If this was literally anyone apart from an ex-member of Boyzone, Ocean Colour Scene would be getting pissed in the corner and Noel would be fighting off Alan McGee to sign them up to Sour Mash. Best of all (Mikey only plays five songs!) is penultimate Rod'n'The Faces singalong 'Skinnydipping'.

Verdict: erm, hits all round. If Paul Weller was singing them.

THE FANS!

Understandably, Mikey's new direction is not one that sits comfortably with the Boyzone massive. The smattering of mid-teen 'Zone fans stage-front look on bewildered as blistering guitar solos and screeching Janis Joplin-esque vocals hurtle towards them with every chorus. The rest of the crowd - old school music biz 'heads' - nod along sagely. Only trouble is, last time they bought a record it was 1972.

Verdict: one big miss. The marketing department may find itself mysteriously short-staffed when the time comes to sort out the 'strategy' for Mikey's album campaign.

THE CELEBRITY FRIENDS!

Oh, the fickle hand of fame. Tonight we are not subject to a smorgasbord of the teen-pop glitterati, all of whom might have dropped everything to wish Mikey well on his solo live debut. Instead we get an animated looking Tina from S Club 7. A wild-eyed paparazzi photographer walks past. Isn't there anyone else of note here to cheer Mikey on?

"Wayne from Five," he declares, triumphantly. One problem. There isn't anyone called Wayne in Five.

Verdict: a miss. Let's hope they sent flowers.

So, does Mikey make the grade? Will he make the leap from teen-band puppet to 'serious artist' in one effortless bound? "I've been through a lot of crap to get here," Mikey tells us, thinking presumably of all the hours he's had to spend in a confined space with Ronan Keating. "My new album's called 'Meet Me Halfway'".

Aah, dear old Mikey. When all else fails, go for the sympathy vote.

Paul Moody

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