Bluetones /Leaves : London Shepherd's Bush Empire

Cherish them...

Bluetones /Leaves : London Shepherd's Bush Empire

A bunch of early-20s hipsters in love with Doves

and Radiohead, Icelandic five piece Leaves are everything most 'serious' bands aspire to. They're effortlessly epic, heartbreakingly poignant, anthemic and yet intimate. This is only their fifth gig but singer Arnar Gudjonsson blows our minds with a voice that could dominate 2002.

By rights, The Bluetones should have given up the ghost by now and shuffled off to die like Britpop's other deadwood. But, like kindred spirits Embrace, the fact that Bluetones favour poignancy and finesse over the clodhopping thrills of lad rock, means that a sell out crowd has gathered to cheer them on with joy rather than embarrassment.

Hence the wiliest of likely lads, dressed in neat shirts and ties like Strokes at C&A, shimmy through a greatest hits set that looks to the future instead on leaning desperately on the past. New songs like 'After Hours' and 'Persuasion' build on the sly style and knowing charm that made The Bluetones Britpop's artful dodgers, pointing towards a life as the only Stone Roses-influenced band that still counts.

Tellingly, it's the hits that propel the Mexican Waves of euphoria through the Empire tonight. 'Bluetonic' is sensitivity writ planet sized. 'Keep The Home Fires Burning' slips steel and vemon into adult oriented indie. And their cover of The Beach Boys' 'Sail On Sailor' proves what we've known all along: The Bluetones are fragile hearts in a world of drab thuggery. Cherish them.

Ian Watson

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