On first sight it seems that The Boyfriends have turned up at completely the wrong venue. With their impeccable manners and dandyish suits they seem to think that the booze-splattered Club NME is, in fact, an Oxbridge end-of-term ball in about 1932. Indeed, gentlemanly singer Martin Wallace is sporting a bowtie and implausibly clean white shoes, which must have floated him over the piles of grime in the gloomy streets of Camden outside. The only thing he’s missing is a corsage to give to some lucky dolled-up punter.
Not only have The Boyfriends bought a touch of decorum to tonight’s proceedings, but they’ve also upped the romance ante mightily. Not one, but two couples are ballroom dancing down the front and gazing lustily into one another’s eyes as ‘Remember’ dusts the room in its perfect indie glitter. Elsewhere lumbering drunks embrace each other and shy girls ask shy boys to shuffle along with them. It’s all rather lovely – and is in no small part down to The Boyfriends’ spellbinding way with a melody and the type of unflinching sincerity that is less fashionable than it should be. Take their cover of Kirsty MacColl’s ‘They Don’t Know’, followed by Martin commenting that he’s sent a letter to the Pope asking for MacColl to be canonised – and he probably has.
They continue to dish out more of their Smiths-ian rock in the shape of the Pimm’s-soaked pop of ‘British Summer Time’ and the heart-breaking tale of faded emotion that is ‘Once Upon A Time’ – all members skipping about the stage embracing the end of the affair with all the perkiness they can muster, whilst still managing to keep a good grip on their instruments. Closing with the epic fuzz-monster ‘There Is Always Hope’, they leave the crowd with warm hearts and, if they’re lucky, a stolen smooch from the piece of indie totty they’ve had their eye on all night. Amen.