The Zutons : Glasgow Carling Academy, March 20

The Fever’s reaching epidemic proportions now…

The Zutons, if you haven’t noticed, are now big business. With ‘Confusion’ soundtracking a car ad, and every night on this UK jaunt sold out it’s clear that, somewhere along the line, Zutons fever bypassed the immune system of the populous, infecting them with charming psych-tinged Merseybeat, and selling a fuck-load of copies of‘Who Killed The Zutons?’ in the process. They’re a band who find their lovers and haters divided upon regional lines but tonight in Glasgow they’re in safe territory; you can’t swing a pint without hearing the (possibly imitated) dulcet tones of some wry Scouser.

Though a surprising number of the audience are in the process of passing into their twilight years, peppered throughout are pockets of The Youth, those smart-eared wastrels who were tuned into The Zutons long before their Mercury nomination made the now nearly-double-platinum ‘Who Killed…’ essential mid-life-crisis-averting fodder. Their investment is rewarded tonight, for onstage are not the Coral-lite misfits of many months ago, but a band crackling with more talent than their Ian Broudie-produced debut alluded to.

Witness ‘Zuton Fever’, converted tonight from three-minute jangly calling card to the aural equivalent of eating a firecracker – a seven-minute freakout in which Dave McCabe lets loose a series of primal screams and several calculated strobe bursts leave The Zutons’ kick-drum logo scarred onto the retinas of the front rows. Abi Harding’s staccato sax yields a burst of audience admiration, although it may just be the back-lighting piercing her tissue-thin dress.

At the other end of the sexiness spectrum is Dave McCabe who tonight, his hair soaked with sweat, bares a shocking resemblance to Tom Chaplin’s seedy uncle. At least his pipes are in good nick, especially on new song ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’, a gorgeous downtempo number that’s gracious enough to throw a verse or two Abi’s way. “If any of you have lost a friend, this song’s for you, man,” he says before ‘Remember Me’, during which Abi’s sax and Boyan’s guitar seemingly get into a vicious argument. The winner? The audience, obviously.

Acknowledging the Crunchy Nut Cornflakes box in the front row that’s been held aloft all night, McCabe begins the instrumental encore. An Egypto-funk tribal odyssey featuring dueling sax and melodica, it ends with The Zutons taking a bow arm-in-arm, and casually strolling off. So, Zutons: roll on LP number two. You’ve some converts waiting.

Mike Sterry

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