The Press Article
Liverpool Academy, Liverpool - 31 May 2005
Supergrass descend majestically on a sunkissed Tuesday evening in Liverpool for the last night of their latest tour. Graham Hughes was there to see if the Britpop survivors are still..alright.
Blinded by the super-bright floodlights as ‘Lenny’ builds to it’s cataclysmic conclusion, we find ourselves blinking madly to shake off permanent retina damage as the Britpop classic mosher ‘Caught by the Fuzz’ kicks the night into gear. Gaz’s monster sideburns have now engulfed his entire face, Mick is doing his best impression of Captain Caveman and Danny looks like he has just stumbled out of a 1970s beach party as he beats the drums into sweet submission.
Ten years since the summer of ‘Alright’, Supergrass descend majestically on a sunkissed Tuesday evening in Liverpool for the last night of their latest tour. Rather appropriate, as this is not a band you associate with grey skies and pouring rain. After the fast and furious (but ultimately boring) ‘Rush Hour School’, it takes ‘Mary’ to slow things down a bit, but it isn’t long before the obnoxious white hot floods return, (a clue as to why Danny is wearing sunglasses indoors?).
Rob, secreted away behind Mick, thrashes away at the keyboard for ‘Bullet’ - a rocky, edgey track which is easy disposed of as the hands reach into the air for ‘Late In The Day’. Mick finally pulls his hair out of his eyes, revealing him not to be an impostor (as some in the crowd has been whispering). Hang on - is that a cruel trick of the light, or is Gaz thinning on top? Say it ain’t so. Maybe it’s time to sack the lighting guy…
Gaz responds to hollered requests for Coco-era songs with a nod and a promise of “later” before breaking open the lamentable ‘Brecon Beacons’ – the intro chords of instant crowd-pleaser ‘Pumping On Your Stereo’ can’t come quickly enough. The audience responds accordingly and soon the student union is shaken to its concrete foundations under the strain of a thousand feet pounding the floor in unison.
‘Hollow Little Reign’ is constructed and performed with as much care and attention as any of Supergrass’ greater hits, but it just reaffirms the belief that Supergrass are only a force to be reckoned with when they stop trying to be a ‘serious’ group and start having fun. But Supergrass are not in the mood for too much fun tonight – they look more like a group of hangover sufferers concentrating on keeping the floor from swaying. “We had a heavy night in London last night” Gaz offers by way of explanation (Danny’s shades now make more sense) as the stage is bathed in yellow for the start of ‘Moving’, the biggest singalong track of the night.
‘St. Petersburg’ and ‘Never Do Nothing’ follow, both competent songs, but both missing an important piece of magic (a great hookline perhaps?) but it isn’t long before the mosh goes back into overdrive for ‘Richard III’, and a real blast from the past which ends with Gaz reaching out to shake hands with members of the audience.
Rob finally gets a chance to shine with the extended keyboard intro to ‘Sun Hits The Sky’ - “this is off our Money album” announces Gaz and as the lyrics kick in, we find ourselves back to those carefree summer afternoons of climbing trees, 99ers and footy in the park. The song crescendos with a jam which gets faster and faster, whipping the fans into a frenzy before the lads from Oxford bow out for a quick breather before the encore.
After retaking the stage and polishing off a rendition of ‘Grace’ in fine form, Gaz announces that the last song will be “an old one – older than ourselves, something off I Should Coco…” before ending the night with the punkpop chorus of ‘Strange Ones’. Were you expecting ‘Alright’? Not tonight, Josephine…
In some ways, Supergrass, along with their Oxfordshire counterparts, Radiohead, are the last survivors of the summer of Britpop. Pulp, Suede and Blur have fallen by the wayside; Oasis and The Manics are now a sad pantomime of their former selves and the lesser minions of 1995 have faded into richly-deserved obscurity, but Supergrass, bless their cotton socks, keep soldiering on.
Like the girl with the curl, when they’re good, they are very good – and it’s the fun, carefree songs that reflect Supergrass at the height of their powers - but when they are bad, well, when they play their ‘serious’ stuff, things rapidly become a serious snorefest. Leave the glum introspective gravitas to the Yorkeists, guys – you’ve got bigger fish to fry.
Graham Hughes, BBC Liverpool - 01 June 2005