The Press Article
Wembley Arena, London - 25 January 2003
An uber-bill of the highest (dis)order, what makes this evening’s entertainment so utterly enchanting is the sheer fact that you’ll know this shall never re-emerge in quite the same context; one of Britain’s best-loved, enduring guitar bands, and three of the world’s most currently alluring alt-superstars in waiting, gracing the stage of London’s foremost indoor-stadium… Much to the world’s understandable, collective dismay, these opportunities don’t arrive daily.
It's barely passed 6pm when The Raveonettes take to the performance-space; a sparsely populated Wembley Arena is treated to an ice-cold blend of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Smashing Pumpkins courtesy of the Danish boy/girl duo, today augmented by two additional musicians for full-on distortion/feedback overdrive. Enticingly, they whoosh through a gargantuan of fuzzed-up f**k-ups such as underground-anthem ‘Attack Of The Ghost Riders’ and the closing chill of ‘Beat City’, all bearing the notable guitar-smashed-around-the-amp trick. A compelling entrance.
No wonder then you'd be hard pushed to find a follow-up act any more different than The Polyphonic Spree. Icy Scandinavian minimalism makes way for euphoric, Texan gospel-pop, and with a stage that can for once adequately accommodate all 25 of the 'Spree's be-cassocked members, frontman Tim DeLaughter really does seem to be having the time of his life. With a number of conspicuous converts near the front (resplendent in official PS robes, of course), 'Soldier Girl' ignites the ever-growing audience for the first time, ably assisted by the triumphant 'Hanging Around' and forthcoming single 'Light and Day’, whilst a reprise of ‘It’s The Sun’ as a triumphant, thunderous close sees our Tim cuddling what we must presume is the latest entrant into the group’s gigantic ensemble – a young child. Bless ‘em all.
Next up: New Zealand's finest purveyors of big, un-ironic metal thrills, The Datsuns. Otto, the school-bus driver from 'The Simpsons', would love them. Invoking just about every stadium-filling band of all time, from Aerosmith to Iron Maiden, the Antipodean quartet like their trousers tight, their hair long and their riffs massive, suiting the stadium-rock surroundings more than drastically. Tearing through a set inaugurated by the AC/DC pastiche ‘Sittin’ Pretty’ and proceeding to the full-throttle ‘Harmonic Generator’ and a shimmering ‘In Love’, they even throw in a guitar-finale more deafening and prolonged than a potential Royal Box could receive situated in a foghorn factory. Just a small treat, obviously.
So, especially after all this, and for a band who have made their name consistently providing their audience with 'the hits', it's a brave move indeed for Supergrass to opt to open their hotly-anticipated set with the first six tracks from their latest LP, 'Life On Other Planets’. Still, glam-tastic new single 'Seen the Light' receives a rapturous reception, whilst ‘Rush Hour Soul’ and ‘Za’ growl with effervescent zeal, all merely serving to make the mid-set burst of ‘Late In The Day’, 'Richard III' and 'Sun Hits The Sky' from arguably career-best, second album 'In It For The Money' all the more enjoyable.
And despite including most of 'Life...' in their hour-and-a-half onstage timing, incidentally inclusive of a really rather shimmering epic, ‘Run’, there's still plenty of room for a plethora of additional brilliant moments; 'Pumping On Your Stereo', ‘Lose It’, 'Mary', 'Moving', and, of course, the classic closer that opened their career in such fine, memorable form – 'Caught By The Fuzz’, still bouncing with loveable, pubescent cheekiness. Gaz Coombes and co. have performed a blinder to a nigh-on 10,000 set of attendees, breaking the erroneous, derogatory notion that they would always be a festival-band predominantly, and people’s band secondly.
Perhaps the only remaining Britpop act to have survived with all original members, dignity and tunes intact, Supergrass prove tonight they're still a long, long way from finished – and are as cuttingly relevant as the new-breed that precede them this evening. The moment their way with a tune and flair for sideburns fail to sparkle quite so blaringly, will be a cripplingly sad day for UK music.
Matt Tomiak & Toby L, Rockfeedback - January 2003