Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms

...their chart-friendly indie tunes are here five years too late...

You can tell a lot from how a band react to those Spinal Tap moments. When Straw frontman Mattie loses his guitar strap, he doesn't wreck his gear or sulk offstage. Instead. still playing, he runs away from the hapless roadie trying to come to his rescue. It's a cheeky gesture, typical of Straw, and it's almost their saving grace,

Bouncing back after parting company with WEA, there's no bitterness in evidence tonight. Straw radiate the same rough'n'tumble charm that characterised early Supergrass. Hit single 'The Aeroplane Song' and new track 'I'm Desperate' show them at their best, while 'Watching You Sleep' - from the forthcoming EP - sounds like Coldplay if they'd lived a little.

So far, so straight-in-at-Number-27, and there lies the problem. For all their enthusiasm, there's something that prevents Straw from sounding like a truly great band. Maybe it's the nagging feeling that their chart-friendly indie tunes are here five years too late.

At a time when there's a war brewing between corporate rock and a passionate, re-energised underground, Straw have buggered off home to listen to classic guitar pop. It's their right to be conscientious objectors. Unfortunately, it's everyone else's right to ignore them.

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