Art Brut: Academy 3, Manchester, Friday June 15

Ready Art Brut? Prole-pop posing from the pope of prancing

Eddie Argos and his chirping gang of musical miscreants have long been torch-bearers for awkward outsider pop.

They combine a sexually focused form of John Cooper Clarke’s frank ranting performance poetry with an academic chic of tattered ties and mis-fitted jackets. Which is why it’s odd to see Argos back onstage and swaggering.

Everyone’s favourite gawky underdog has turned into a cocky rock god? How did this happen? It might be their new worldwide success (if you count Germany, Eastern Europe and California as a planet unto themselves). It may be the hordes chanting back words to songs yet to be released. Whatever, here and now Eddie is the pope of pop, and loving every minute.

From new album, ‘It’s A Bit Complicated’’s painfully brilliant stadium rock opener ‘Pump Up The Volume’, a seething mosh-pit swiftly opens up in the first two rows, like some gasping gate to hell, which throughout the show threatens to eat Eddie whole. Though, to be fair, if he didn’t keep on placing various bits of his body in it, he’d probably have a safer time of things. While not sharing Eddie’s enthusiasm for losing bits of clothing and various extremities to the crowd, the rest of the band seem to be having just as much fun; lead guitar wiz Ian Cakskilkin brings on a double-necked guitar for ‘Direct Hit’, while Jasper Future corrals the crowd into whooping along to his every strum and bassist Freddie Feedback humbly does her best glam Kim Deal impression. Dusty classics ‘Rusted Guns Of Milan’, ‘Good Weekend’ and even the tear-jerking ‘Emily Kane’ are lapped up by the audience, but the real revelation comes with the new tunes – they are, it’s fair to say, 10 times more polished, hilarious and powerful than the band’s previous efforts. The glorious likes of ‘I Will Survive’, ‘Post Soothing Out’ and ‘People In Love’ will be tattooed on your brain by the end of the summer, New Cross will be converted to an art-rock Vatican and all shall hail to the sexually frustrated papacy.

Leonie Cooper