Toploader: London Brixton Academy

Jamie Oliver's fave band play THAT SONG and some other ones too...

“I said, can you hear me Brixton?!” Let the people show the way. It’s half-past nine at Brixton Academy, and the place is in tumult. Joe Washbourn, Toploader‘s frizz-haired singer, has just swaggered on-stage in a fetching ensemble of brown corduroys and a green

military flak jacket and the place is in uproar. Not so much for who he is, you sense – these are early days, after all – but for the cover version his band have made their own.

Addled to his left stands lead guitarist Julian Deane. Here is a man who could quite happily solo for England. To Joe’s right, meanwhile, is stick-thin rhythm guitarist Dan Hipgrave, current beau of Gail Porter and the man burdened with the responsibility of bringing the spirit of Ron Wood into the new century. No probs. Whenever the need arises – and that’s pretty much every five minutes during tonight’s euphoric, we’ve-made-it style jamboree – he swigs wholeheartedly from a can of beer, raises his hands in thanks and then gets back to the business of churning out those bluesy riffs until the moment comes to play that tune.

He’s not the only one. Everybody’s waiting for it. The ‘Loader, gents as they are, don’t torture us for too long. “This is a b-side, you probably won’t know it,” burbles Josh as the opening piano riff booms from the speakers, and the Academy erupts with a glee that will keep them buying Toploader albums for, ooh, at least a couple of years at least.

The band, knowing they’ll never match it in the next hour, even with a spirited encore of ‘You Keep Me Hanging On’ (a la Vanilla Fudge) and ‘Achilles Heel’, disappear without playing it again, no matter how long the cheers go on. Smart move. If they can continue to be so sparing with their most deadly weapon, Toploader have twigged they might just be dancing in the moonlight forever.

Paul Moody