Guildford University Of Surrey

One shudders to think quite what would happen to the [B]Popple[/B]-like one if the whole pop plan flops and their [B]'The Magic Treehouse'[/B] album doesn't stay at the top of the charts forever,

Recently, a lady who collects Tupperware was asked on television how she had enough space in her house for all the plastic dishery. “They all fit into each other,” deadpanned the lady. And she had a point. In a not dissimilar vein, one could ask the same question of [a]Ooberman[/a]: why on earth plump for such a vividly incongruous collection of styles, sources and sonic out-takes? “Because,” they would patiently sigh, “it all fits together.”

A university campus just-outside-of-town on a frozen Sunday night. Winter’s here, kids, and so are [a]Ooberman[/a], braving the odd rugby-shirted brick shithouse as part of a low-key warm-up for the [a]Gomez[/a] tour. Rather handily, in the olden days, [a]Ooberman[/a]’s muse would have been jovially described as ‘studentesque’ primarily because they play clever-arsed music with a relentlessly witty disposition. Nowadays, however, all students are into ‘dance’ music and so [a]Ooberman[/a] must surely represent a post-post-Britpop melange of melodic vibrancy probing into our darkened souls. And such like.

What their slew of mini-hits doesn’t warn you about is the fact that [a]Ooberman[/a]’s particular post-post-Britpop melange should ricochet around the student union like the eminently acrobatic noiseniks The Monsoon Bassoon fighting a baboon. Yet that’s what it does, body-slamming from drowsy verse to glamrock chorus via hysterically overwrought cheeky-chirpy-chappy in-betweeny bits. At the centre of this berserk universe is one Danny Popplewell, a bright young thing who just so happens to have Friends-style hair, Jamie Theakston‘s grin, Damon Albarn‘s punky leaps and the general all round demeanour of the squirrel whose just found all the world’s nuts. If everything goes to plan you’ll have your opportunity to love to hate him for his looks, enthusiasm and nifty way with a tune soon enough. But for now, even Surrey’s most baffled are treated to the full Popplewell repertoire, a Lloyd-Webber-licking bag of theatrical tricks best encapsulated by Danny spreading his arms wide and gazing, dewy eyed, at the stars above.

Indeed, one shudders to think quite what would happen to the Popple-like one if the whole pop plan flops and their ‘The Magic Treehouse’ album doesn’t stay at the top of the charts forever, so brazenly ambitious is the fivesome’s take on this whole commercial malarkey. It seems fitting that here they dispense with Sophia Churney‘s heart-rending spoken-word climax to the luscious ‘Shorley Wall’ – such tragic emotion would be unsuitable in a show (and, by gum, this is a ‘show’ in the proper West End sense of the word) which can’t decide whether to pay tribute to Paper Lace or Blur or Pigbag and so celebrates them all at once.

They play ‘Physics Disco’. It’s a song about students. Yes it is.