The Coral: Live in London

The Coral: Live in London

The venue is grander, the songs still gorgeous. Coliseum, London (July 29)

In this most ornate of West End venues, more used to hosting the flamboyant sounds of the English National Opera, The Coral are busy being anything but ornate or flamboyant. The clothes are casual, the between-song banter limited to a couple of cursory “thanks”’, “nice one”s and “this one’s for”s, the lighting as simple as it comes. The much-whispered-about guests – Noel, Alex Turner – are conspicuous by their absence. Instead, producer and Lightning Seed Ian Broudie joins the band for two songs. But none of this matters. For six years and five albums now, The Coral have made a virtue of being the most bullshit-free band on the planet. They write songs, they record songs, they play songs. That’s it. And the reason they’re so revered by bands old and new remains simple: because these songs are good.

Tonight, in support of their forthcoming ‘Singles Collection’, they play lots of them, acoustically. ‘Jacqueline’, ‘Pass It On’, ‘Goodbye’, ‘In The Morning’, debut single ‘Shadows Fall’… all of them are aided by the theatre’s crystal-clear sound, their beautiful harmonies fantastically at the fore. There are new songs – ‘Green Is The Colour’, ‘Rovin In The Jewel’ – that are as perfectly formed as every other Coral song you know already. There are covers of ‘Everybody’s Talkin’’ and The Everly Brothers ‘Bye Bye Love’, songs that illustrate this band’s love of timeless melody, songs that show off James Skelly’s crooner vocal to the full. People clap between songs. The Coral say “Thanks a lot” again at the end.

And if all this sounds not hugely exciting in print, that’s in inverse proportion to how spellbinding it is in the flesh. Tonight’s show is special, make no mistake, the whole ‘acoustic’ aspect magnifying what’s so great about this band. To reiterate, partly because there isn’t much else to say about The Coral: they write consistently brilliant songs, which they play very well, consistently. But there’s a difference between being consistent and being workmanlike, and this is a band who have never been and will never be the latter. There will be another great Coral album next year, and the one after that, and the one after that. Tonight was another fuss-free reminder of how many good ones there have already been.

Hamish MacBain