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Graham Coxon at Roundhouse (August 2nd, 2014)
Photo by Daniel Alexander Harris (Digital)
Article (review) about Graham’s gig at the Roundhouse on this week’s NME.
Graham Coxon at the Roundhouse, London Saturday, August 2
The Blur guitarist refuses to play the crowd-pleasers. But the fans love it anyway
Graham Coxon has always been a contrary kinda guy. Consistently providing an unapologetic, distortion-laden undercurrent to Damon Albarn’s hooky Britpop choruses, the guitarist spent the best part of his Blur days freaking out with his pedal board. He openly greeted laddish larks like the bleary ‘Country House’ video with a weary and disdainful sigh. Since 1998 and ‘The Sky Is Too High’, he has sought solace in his solo output, which has so far consisted of three albums of angsty, antisocial melancholia (made while still a member of Blur during some of their most successful years), three albums of increasingly poppy material, having just parted ways with his former bandmates, an acoustic record and an album centred around a new-found interest in synths and drum machines. Of all his ’90s fellow Britpop peers, Coxon is the difficult one. It makes sense that tonight’s show, his first solo date of the year, should be a succinct encapsulation of all this. It may take the form of acoustic half, interval, electric half, but Coxon’s natural alignment with the leftfeld ensures it’s about as far away from a greatesthits variety performance as it’s possible to get. Tonight, Coxon is the polar opposite of Albarn, whose latest ventures have seen him running through his most popular material, even bringing Coxon out for a rendition of ‘Tender’ at Latitude. There are no hits, no singles, just a full-pelt dash through new songs and obscurities for the die-hard fans. Coxon, unassuming in a loose striped T-shirt, looks like he’s having the time of his life. It begins in typically awkward fashion. “This is one of my favourite old tunes, mainly because of the instrumental bit at the end where there’s no singing,” he mumbles awkwardly before laying into ‘Bonfires’, a cracking track from 2001’s ‘Crow Sit On Blood Tree’. Stark 2004 offering ‘Ribbons And Leaves’ is given its live debut, preceded by the confession that “most of my favourite songs are extremely melancholy”. “This is a tremendous opportunity to play things like that and not what everyone wants,” he continues after a soft ‘Flights To The Sea (Lovely Rain)’, laughing despite clearly meaning every word he says. His hunched demeanour is far from traditionally crowd-pleasing, but strangely his set definitely is. Sure, there’s a distinct lack of radio-friendly classics, but almost every song is a live debut, a barely played oldie or a new offering. His dedicated audience – who know that a jaunty rendition of ‘Coffee And TV’ is about as likely as a Gorillaz cover – have struck gold. ‘Live Line’ and ‘Baby, You’re Out Of Your Mind’ are both stripped-back, pleasingly simple things, the former a bitter lament, the latter full of amusingly upbeat cynicism (“Start where you finish, end up dead/With braincells diminished and underfed”). Both show the rich quality of Coxon’s earlier solo output. When he returns with a full band for the electric portion, it’s with squalling, antagonistic force. ‘That’s When I Reach For My Revolver’ is spat out with more venom than a 45-year-old should really muster, ‘Fags And Failure’ and ‘Tell It Like It Is’ are greeted with whoops of “We love you, Graham” despite their noticeably miserable leanings, and a rare outing of ‘See A Better Day’ shows Coxon at his most vulnerable, croaking “Baby, baby, baby what can I do?/I’m so in love with you”. Adoration in the venue for the squirming figure front and centre is undeniable; even the new tracks are greeted with loud cheers. ‘Alright’ and ‘All The Rage’ are delivered acoustically – the first a four-chord afair with a whistling solo, the second a typically self-deprecating tale of “a life so forgettable”, full of harmonies and intricate melodies. ‘There’s A Little House’ and ‘Easy’ (“Not the Commodores one”), meanwhile, are electric: mid-tempo, but laden with hooks, they hint at a return to the guitarist’s most accessible output. He finishes with ‘Ooh, Yeh Yeh’, the closer from 2012’s ‘A+E’. Sauntering along on a rudimentary chorus, it’s the closest he gets to providing a singalong moment. But if you came for easy thrills, you probably backed the wrong horse from the beginning.
This is too great for words.
The gravity defying lean.
The sock and shoe combo.
The hint of lower torso skin.
I MAD E THE WORST SOUND
The most awkward anybody has ever looked while admitting that they think about sex sometimes
by awkward you mean adorable