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London King's Cross Scala

He genuinely believes he is up there with Elvis and God...

"Pete Wylie, you are God!" Wylie knows this already, but he can't resist a sly smile at the first of many adulatory heckles. Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch, his co-conspirators in Liverpool's legendary punk outfit The Crucial Three, may have enjoyed greater fame in the past two decades, but Wylie has enough self-belief to raise himself above everyone else. Wylie doesn't style his hair and outfit on The King for nothing - he genuinely believes he is up there with Elvis and God.



Wylie slots in his biggest hit, 1982's 'The Story Of The Blues', as the third song tonight. He wants his current material, this year's 'Songs Of Strength & Heartbreak' album, to get the respect he believes it deserves. It's his career high, but these songs do suffer without the Columbia-funded production. Tracks like 'Hey! Mona Lisa' should boom with Phil Spector's wall of sound and crackle with the vigorous intent of The Clash, but they end up with not enough sweeping grace and too much bullish charm.



Although three guitars, a keyboard and a backing singer can't quite do justice to Wylie's modern masterpieces, they can glorify simpler songs such as 'Sinful'. These old favourites are no less effective, but at two-and-a-quarter hours' duration, the man with a gob as wide as the Mersey Tunnel should pare things down a little because this show, while at times superb, was too exhaustive a trail through the back catalogue.



Ben Clancy

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