Prague Akropolis

Old contemptables of Britpop find themselves propelled towards a time when they must play venue with comfy seats and No Smoking signs...

It is a common complaint from pint-hugging old lags that when they were deadly First Division strikers nobody considered what tragedy would befall these footballing heroes once their knees had gone and the crowd’s roars had receded. To an uncertain extent, it’s the same with bands – as yet, there is no course available to teach pop stars how to grow old gracefully.

THE BOO RADLEYS are a case in point. When ‘Wake Up, Boo!’ propelled the foursome onto Fab FM Roadshows, few could have envisaged the disastrous consequences. Every time any of their subsequent releases stumbled in lower than Number Nine, it was perceived as a commercial catastrophe and anyway, all the rest of their songs were too ‘insular’ and ‘miserable’ to shake your Kellogg’s to, weren’t they?

All except for the urgent gesticulations of ‘Free Huey’ and ‘What’s In The Box (See What You Got)’, obviously. Although in the context of this immaculately appointed studio by the Seine, both singles grate furiously on a casual night when sonic terrorism fails to make the agenda. For a start, MARTIN CARR is onstage sans shoes. For a second, the Boos are performing a high-profile Black Session for French radio. And for a third, this auditorium is ideal for a band who haven’t played their home country of late, simply because they can’t find the ‘right’ venue.

True, keyboard player ALI has been added, enabling the Boos to attempt to recreate the ever-increasing grandeur of their recordings (a job well done apart from some woeful brass effects during ‘Lazarus’), but you can understand their collective confusion. Light years on from the superfuzzed days when they could merrily bash through a support slot with, oooh, DINOSAUR JR, The Boo Radleys inevitably – and possibly unwillingly – find themselves floating towards the time when they must tour venues with comfy seats and no-smoking signs. It’s a theory heartily vindicated by these live renditions of ‘Kingsize’, ‘From The Bench At Belvidere’ and ‘Adieu Clo Clo’, not to mention the persistent, gentle mocking of Carr by a chirpy SICE.

You get old. You become confused. But as long as your knees are fine, you’ve still got a job to do. Quite how much longer The Boo Radleys actually want to continue running their little hearts out is open to conjecture however.