Spoon : London Charing Cross Borderline

Mainman Daniel transcends all limitations...

Tonight is Spoon frontman Britt Daniel’s first solo appearance in London, and he has a sore throat. His rhythm section is a portable stereo with a microphone propped against it, and the projection flickering apologetically behind him resembles the sole of a shoe. This would be pretty pitiful if you couldn’t sense steely resolve underpinning Daniel’s every move, or hear the blunt resilience and brittle emotion lashing out from each two-minute tune.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be able to finish the songs”, he rasps, then proceeds not only to finish them but to return for an encore.

Spoon have been scooping out their niche in the American underground since 1996, becoming cult heroes on the Austin, Texas music scene while ricocheting unluckily between labels. Early records clattered with jittery pop punk in the Modern Lovers/ Costello mould (tonight’s Wire cover is a nod to one of Daniel’s greatest influences), though Spoon’s most recent outing – the slightly underwhelming ‘Girls Can Tell’ LP – labours over more straightforward songwriting.

As Daniel thumbs through the Spoon catalogue tonight, he provides glimpses of the subtle excellence that has made the band so enduring. His lyrics weave vague yet evocative nightlife vignettes, and many bristle with wry humour. ‘Advance Cassette’, for example, is a paean to a lost demo tape.

Even when Daniel puts down his guitar to sing unaccompanied save for pre-recorded percussion like some awful indie karaoke bore, his sore-throated sweetness makes it the evening’s greatest revelation. Spoon may soundtrack the downtrodden, but Daniel transcends all limitations.

April Long