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Brown, Ian : London Shepherd's Bush Empire

He doesn’t just wanna be adored. He demands it...

Brown, Ian : London Shepherd's Bush Empire

Hopping on the spot like a prize fighter, a lean, tanned Ian Brown looks like he hasn’t aged a day in the last ten years. He still stalks the stage expecting adulation as a birth right, beckoning at those seated upstairs to get on their feet and appreciate him properly, and bursting into odd little dances that somehow just avoid looking ridiculous.

This is a man who can deserve to be proud, though. Three successful solo albums in, the ex-Stone Roses
frontman now has a whole new career flourishing on its own merits rather than on his illustrious history. He’s avoided quick-buck reunions, conquered
critical humiliation after the messy end of Stone Roses
and even survived a short spell at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. No-one has as much right to sing about resurrections as him.

Of course, determined to keep the focus on his present, he does no such thing tonight. His only nod to the past comes towards the end of the brilliant ‘Love Like A Fountain’, where the guitar riff suddenly slips into the introduction of ‘Fools Gold’, Ian Brown mumbles the first line over the biggest cheers of the night... and then he returns to his own song. If there’s one thing he’s learnt over the years it’s that there’s no benefit in looking back.

He keeps moving musically, too. His band tonight are impressive, the sound dominated by Inder Goldfinger’s expansive percussion and Aziz Ibrahim’s squalling guitar (not to mention his laughable stage antics: fingertip lasers, glowing guitars and fairy lit fridges inside amps. At one point, he even plays with his teeth. No, really. Meanwhile, Ian Brown irreverently plunders and twists influences - 80’s electronica, Mexican and Indian beats, mild techno, hip-hop - in highlights that include ‘Golden Gaze’, ‘My Star’ and the superb ‘F.E.A.R’.

It does take him about four songs to warm up vocally (if only he’d
do it backstage beforehand) and there’s no way you’d let anyone else get away with that. But somehow, Ian Brown emerges triumphant. He doesn’t just wanna be adored. He demands it.

Siobhan Grogan

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