Razorlight : Manchester Apollo

Razorlight : Manchester Apollo

Borrell and the boys are back from the brink to prove they’ve still got that golden touch...

It’s an affliction peculiar to us Brits that there’s nothing we

love more than a loser. Whether it’s a shafting in an international football

tournament or voting Tory (no really, some people still do), we

virtually award mediocrity with MBEs these days. Or at the very

least, platinum-selling albums. Everyone loves a loser. Which is why

everybody hates Johnny Borrell.

Since coming out of the traps 18 months ago, he and his wonky-dentured

gob have casually declared his own genius at every available opportunity and

boasted that, “I’m going out to America and I’m not coming back until

I’m king”. While the world of indie rock has long treasured its own

self-loathing, there’s nothing dearer to our Johnny, it seems, than

his Messiah complex. Except – and here’s the rub – he backed up the

self-generated hyperbole with the brilliant debut, ‘Up All Night’, a

record the world wanted to be terrible. Borrell simply blew an

impossibly tuneful raspberry back in its face. Then, at last, it went tits

up when he freaked out during an American tour, ‘lost his voice’ and

had to cancel these rescheduled dates – what should have been his victory

lap. And thank God for it, because now that fame’s fucked with his head and

we know he’s human, he and his band have become ten times more interesting.

First things first, though; these gigs represent a step up to the big

league for Razorlight and the ante has been upped considerably. A

giant LCD screen counts down to the band’s arrival and stage props are

littered around to create a delightful, style-free ’70s sitting room motif.

Not that The Borrell needs shrubbery and screen doors to assert his

claim as rock’s dainty-toed Samson. From the opening notes of ‘Rip It

Up’, it’s painfully clear that whatever people wanted Razorlight

to prove was proven a long time ago. He struts around the stage, casually

tossing off items of clothing to the screams of teenage girls and modestly

informing us that, “This is the best song I’ve heard in a long fucking

time,” before launching into ace newie ‘Keep The Right Profile’.

Make no mistake, while the last 12 months have galvanised Razorlight

into a proper band – as opposed to an ego-trip – this is still very much
Johnny’s show, and no amount of Björn’s leg-splays or
Carl’s indie aerobics workouts will change that. Whether he’s scaling

the PA stack during a frenzied ‘Which Way Is Out’, or down the front,

boggle-eyed and freaking out during ‘In The City’, the spotlight

rarely leaves him. This, then, is the send-off ‘Up All Night’

deserved. The question now is – where to from here? Johnny Borrell

would tell us the stratosphere, and not for the first time, he’d probably be

right. The bastard.

Barry Nicolson