Fountains of Wayne / Manchester University

They're good. There's no doubt about that. Clever, tuneful and, when you can hear their jokes, funny. All the things you ordinarily find lacking in other pop groups. All the things you might complain about. So why aren't Fountains of Wayne a dream come true? Why do you leave the venue not ever wanting to hear them again? Why do you wake up the next morning with their choruses joy-riding around your head? And why do you want to kill them for it?

Singer Chris Collingwood and multi-instrumentalist Adam Schlesinger look like they might have been the kind of kids who bunked school every day and still got straight As. Without cheating. Their songs have more hooks than a tackle box, full of smug middle eights and top of the class chord changes. With a disciplined pick-up band of US indie notables - Jody Porter on guitar and Brian Young at the traps - songs are dashed off like there's nobody here. Everybody looks like they have a headache and you'd have more chance of a smile at a state funeral. Heads lean to one side during just-so guitar solos. Everything is, like, rilly cool. At one point, Adam Schlesinger looks like he may well be asleep, lost in a world of secret ennui. About half an hour into the set, it's clear we can expect no scissor kicks.

The single, "Radiation Vibe", sounds better than everything else. Hey, but that doesn't mean everything else is no good. The pogoers in the audience go wild. Collingwood tries his best not to catch anyone's eye while they are enjoying themselves. I think it's during this song that a chunk of ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" is quoted. Picking up the mood of the evening, we all smile to ourselves making sure not to point out the joke to anyone else.

The group and their apologists have claimed a whole lineage of timeless pop as their heritage - Beatles, Beach Boys, Big Star, Raspberries, Shoes, even Cheap Trick for god's sake. Hey, that last one must be, like, some sort of joke. But sometimes Fountains of Wayne just sound like yet another American rock band unable to shake the shadow of the template that was Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" - like the rest, playing those songs that go quiet-noisy-quiet, fast-slow-fast, drawling like a heroin addict then screaming like a psychopath. Except that Fountains of Wayne don't scream as loud as everyone else. Uncool, dude.

They play most of their casually accomplished album Leave the Biker, "Please Don't Rock Me Tonight" which contains a chorus that sellotapes itself to your head, and "Joe Rey" which I shall probably find myself whistling absent-mindedly next year. They are all, like, rilly loud. This helps to alleviate the slightly saccharine nauseousness they induce while listening to the LP. But nothing here makes you want to shout about them. If the Fountains of Wayne were your mates and they got into a fight in a pub, you would undoubtedly slip out of the side door leaving them to fend for themselves. There is really nothing about them that makes you want to care.

I have to say that I was disappointed, dude. I expected the effervescence of the Monkees but saw that, if you took the Fountains of Wayne to a beach, they'd just complain about the broken glass. I have to confess that I spent the last half-hour of their show dreaming of things to wake them up. Like America bringing back national service and sending a heavy-lidded nation of Beavis and Buttheads to compulsory fitness classes policed by Henry Rollins.

The show was topped by a soporific tape of Astrud Gilberto. It was tailed by a tape of the Beach Boys. Obvious, perfect even. And just a little too cool, dude. John McCready

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing