Christ, they were dull. If only they’d called the new album ‘Just Enough Energy To Perform’ and had done with it, we might have expected tonight’s lifeless trudge through the ‘Phonics’ -occasionally splendid – back pages, but instead we got the same old meat and potatoes; only this time it was served up cold. Where’s the fury gone, guys?
Things start, ominously, with the humourless ‘Mr. Writer’. Now, cultural significance aside – it’s surely the greatest advertisement ever for music journalism – this gets things off to a bad-tempered start and they barely
recover. The new stuff is to blame. A wearisome ‘Vegas Two Times’ and ‘Some Days’ get cancelled out by a stirring ‘Hurry Up And Wait’ and ‘Pick A Part That’s New’ but it’s the same story all evening.
Just as Shepherd’s Bush rouses itself for an onslaught of the ‘Phonics at their best – Kelly sandpapering the Victorian grandeur of the balcony with his wide-eyed longing and electric larynx, Stuart thumping the skins like he’s just found out his hairdresser is back from his holidays – they go off the boil and never seem to have the heart to recover.
“This one’s about a lesbian… Anne Robinson,” growls Kelly before a terse ‘The Bartender And The Thief’, but next thing you know, he’s crouched over an acoustic guitar for two more new songs, and the ‘Phonics beery army are left standing there disgruntled waiting for the band to explode all over them
It never happens. After about a year, the band slope back on and jog through ‘The Local Boy In The Photograph’ before finishing with the downbeat rattle of ‘Rooftop’. Charisma personified, it is not.
And then the lights go up and it’s time to go on ho-oomme. Just telling it like it really is.