Best wait 'til he loses it completely.

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London King's Cross Water Rats


London King’s Cross Water Rats

The bloke onstage has got tiny maracas (snigger). No, but seriously, Garret ‘Jacknife’ Lee – ex-[a]Compulsion[/a] charmer now reborn as a kind of big beat Las Vegas lounge act – really [I]is [/I]brandishing a pair of the smallest maracas you’ll ever see. But no doubt he’d appreciate the joke: Mr Lee is, after all, a bit ‘mad’.

You can tell he’s mad by the fact that he comes across like a living Photofit of all the maddest entertainers in history: sometimes he does puppety jerks like a punk David Byrne, then he stares insanely, John Lydon-style. His shirt-sleeves protrude from the arms of his too-small suit jacket, which is always a dead giveaway.

But perhaps the biggest pointer to JKL‘s barminess is the music, which is a burlesque funk fairground soundtrack of Moog whines, vinyl abuse and shameless breakbeats. Tonight we swing giddily from Herb Alpert tack to Fatboy sauce, the whole rich sonic blancmange kept from mould by Lee‘s way with a sinuous melody.

He’s best on the careening ‘Cookies’, staying straight-faced as the rhythms slip from electro to disco to hip-hop; he’s less convincing on ‘Aloha Satellite Special’, serving only to remind us what separates genre-hoppers from true pop chameleons like Beck. And unlike Beck, Lee just isn’t, ultimately, mad enough. There’s still something a little strained about his Day-Glo demeanour. Best wait ’til he loses it completely.