Many supposedly cutting-edge bands never manage to sum up their empathy with disaffected youth in the way Art Brut singer Eddie Argos did here with just one song introduction. "This is a sad song," he panted, "about trying to pay your council tax bill with your girlfriend, but being too drunk to even use your mobile phone."
This was just one of many bons mots offered by Argos. While his band are a reasonable punk-pop group of some flair, Argos is the reason they are unmissable live. He's a prodigious wordsmith whose lyrics mix the laugh-out-loud with a world-weary wryness and a precise frisson of excitement. To put him up there with Jarvis Cocker, the Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner or even Morrissey would not be to overplay his skill.
Nevertheless, the singer's vocal delivery is clear, and he makes his quotable remarks in the voice of a university lecturer who's just run a mile to get to his class.
It's hard to know where to begin when relaying his litany of subject matters. Apparently, "Move to LA" is a fantasy he had about trying to escape an ex-girlfriend, involving a transatlantic exit to "hang about with Axl Rose"; "Everything will be just fine/ I hear the murder rate is in decline," he hollers. The song ends with him drinking with Morrissey in the Hollywood hills.
"18,000 Lira" is a song about "inept Italian terrorism"; "These Animal Menswe@r" celebrates long-gone bands (obscure pop references are a staple); and "Bad Weekend" sets off the audience's obligatory "Art Brut, top of the pops" chant. "Nag Nag Nag Nag" is a punchy new single, "already made available on the internet by thieves. But help yourselves, we're independently wealthy."
It's to be hoped that the London-based quintet's expanding fanbase urges them towards the kind of success they enjoy in overseas markets. "This song was No 1 in Brazil, Japan, Australia, Germany, the US independent chart," Argos exaggerates before the sublime "Good Weekend".
Then young fans raid the stage as instruments are pulled from their sockets and Argos is left hollering alone amid the chaos. It's not often you see that, and not often you see a band so obviously bound for fame.Reuse content