London Shepherd's Bush Empire

...music as heartfelt as this has no use-by date.

The monogrammed towels are the first clue this is no ordinary rock scenario. Then there's the haste with which some people race off before the encores, babysitters' clocks ticking into overtime. Riffs? Attitude? You can whistle for 'em; we're not at the megastore any more, Toto. This is the crowning moment of The Go-Betweens' unlikely return, after 11 years of obscure solo releases. And it's a magical affair: a raised glass to love, loss and semi-acoustic jangles that the '80s' sharpest dreamers richly deserve. There is a new lease of life to celebrate; new LP, 'The Friends Of Rachel Worth', wooing the fresh-faced and long-term soppy alike.

But while there's no feet on monitors, Robert Forster and Grant McLennan do let it all hang out in their own way. Each chord of opener, 'Your Turn, My Turn' comes awash with vintage emotion. Each lyric of 'Spirit' - and every tune thereafter - comes vivid with poignancy. Even the ones about beer. It's as though The Go-Betweens have turned everything up to 11: their charm, their contrasts, their pleasure at cheating obscurity.

On home turf like 'Baby Stones' or 'Danger In The Past', Forster actually twinkles in the spotlight, alternating real gravitas and camp hip wiggles. He spends 'Danger''s guitar solo wrapped in a curtain, before cutting loose with feedback pangs. McLennan - The Go-Betweens' raw, red heart - is happy to indulge him, and just reel off brilliant tune upon brilliant tune. 'Going Blind' sidles seamlessly up to 'Apology Accepted' in the canon of Great Grant Songs, linking the heartache of the past to the warm glow of their current reignition. They're a timely reminder that melody is not just the boring stuff between nu-metal riffs. That songs played on electric guitars and sung a little flat can still touch, gladden and devastate. That music as heartfelt as this has no use-by date.

Kitty Empire

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