‘An Explosion In Reverse’ – The Last Shadow Puppets’ Return To The Stage Reviewed

“An explosion in reverse” is how Alex Turner described his musical partnership with Miles Kane earlier this year. The Last Shadow Puppets, he told NME, are “like John Lennon meets… Paul.” (Kane added, “I tell him I love him all the time.”)

Buy into that matey braggadocio – their near decade-long bromance is still burning bright as ever. Watching the magnetic performance they gave last night (March 24) at Cambridge’s Corn Exchange, their first official TLSP gig in almost eight years, was a lesson in reciprocity.

A couple of months ago, Kane told Q that he’d never considered joining Arctic Monkeys because “I hadn’t been a frontman. I had a hard-on for that,” and although they joked that “we’re going to be squabbling over the mic this time,” there’s a strikingly easy to-and-fro to everything that happens onstage tonight. No shared-mic yowling at all.

There’s actually plenty of limelight for them both, and they use it to full effect across the 19 songs of their set. Alex mixes understated charm (‘Miracle Aligner’) with urgency (‘The Age Of The Understatement’), and late into the set, backed by a string quartet, Miles, and three touring members from Mini Mansions and Guards, he drops his guitar to go full louche frontman (‘Sweet Dreams, TN’). Miles himself goes on the attack early, (‘Bad Habits’, in which Alex whips out a tambourine), and later turns snake-hipped crooner (‘Pattern’).

Aside from a couple of whispered nothings to one another on stage, and a few song introductions from Miles, they keep talk to a minimum. During the encore, when Alex says, “Thanks for coming down everybody. We really appreciate it,” it’s the most he’s said all night.

The crowd doesn’t want talk, though, they want to scream along to more of the hits – when the pair come back for the encore they’re baying chants of ‘Miles’ and ‘Alex Turner’. They follow up with an irresistible three-song flurry: the skew-whiff blues of The Beatles’ ‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’, the sugar-sweet melancholy of ‘The Dream Synopsis’, and chantable old favourite ‘Standing Next To Me’. Each one is just another reminder of this friendship’s beautiful un-explosion. They’ve still got it.

The Last Shadow Puppets played:
‘Calm Like You’
‘Bad Habits’
‘The Age Of The Understatement’
‘Miracle Aligner’
‘Separate And Ever Deadly’
‘The Chamber’
‘The Element of Surprise’
‘My Mistakes Were Made For You’
‘Only The Truth’
‘Dracula Teeth’
‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’
‘The Meeting Place’
‘Sweet Dreams, TN’
‘In My Room’

‘I Want You (She’s So Heavy)’ – Beatles cover
‘The Dream Synopsis’
‘Standing Next To Me’