Mansun / King Adora / Sunna / Mull Historical Society: London Astoria

It's a night of glam-punk splutterings and glitzy art-rock angles at the NME Carling Awards Show...

Mansun eh? When NME deigns to produce its next ‘influences’ issue, Let Loose and Magnum aside, it’s difficult to imagine a band less influential than these rum Chester art-pompers.

But hold up a second, maybe it’s in Colin McInytyre’s high-pitched whine, or his tea-cosied keyboardist’s fondness for church-bell noises, but Mull Historical Society have clearly been listening. If you were charmed by their whimsical debut, ‘Barcode Bypass’ you might be surprised by that. And equally confused by their propensity for Manics-ish glockenspiel-assisted power chords (think: ‘Australia’). Opener ‘I Tried’ is all echoey Lennon vocals and Mud-U-like chunky bass, while ‘Strangeways’ (about “two goats”, apparently) heaps up the twinkly keyboard quotient to ‘Merry Xmas (War Is Over)’ levels. By the end of their set there’s one ‘wanker’ sign from the front rows, and one couple snogging. A mixed result, then.

And speaking of hand signals, Sunna’s bassist, Shane Goodwin, knows just what it takes to get the kids onside in 2001. He does the HM ‘devil’ sign and the audience immediately reciprocate. The gut-churning opening chord of ‘Trading’ is enough to make one tiara-ed Mansun fan evacuate the front rows immediately, and the band lurch scarily into a convincing impression of Alice Cooper fronting Jesus Jones. Truly fearsome, Sunna take trusted, punishing grooves like Led Zep’s ‘When The Levee Breaks’ and bolt scratches, samples and remorseless guitars to them: the whole package offers a comically doomy answer to ‘what rock will sound like in the 21st Century’.

As opposed to King Adora of course, who stick doggedly to the last millennium, 1977 specifically. Featherlite and often ribbed for our pleasure, they’re actually a hugely entertaining glam racket (complete with the obligatory hod-carrying ‘slightly larger’ member, who wisely refuses to opt for a spangly crop-top). Singer Matt Brown sports a splendidly frayed feathercut and, frankly, Camden-Town-lady-tourist flares, while drummer Dan Dabrowski’s mohican currently stands proud at 12 inches above scalp. Together, they equate to 25 minutes of Supergrass throwing shapes to the Pixies. Smart.

Finally a huge football crowd roar greets Mansun. There are no suits or fancy uniforms tonight. Instead, singer Paul Draper models a Charles Manson T-shirt. Opener, ‘Take It Easy Chicken’ sees guitarist Dominic Chad press the Van Halen pedal and ends with some fearsome wank-handle abuse, while the splenetic ‘Being A Girl’ introduces the tantalising prospect of Guns N’Roses jamming with XTC. ‘Electric Man’, too, suggests that Mansun are indulging in an ’80s revival of their own (more Nik Kershaw than Hall & Oates), while ‘Taxloss’ rattles along with the shambolic fervour of ‘Parklife’-era Blur.

With Ben Sherman-ed lads and wand-waving boa girls united in their approval, who wants to be influential in 20 years’ time when Mansun offer the soundtrack to right now?

Martin Horsfield