Graham Coxon, HMV Forum, London

3.00

 

Boyish Blur guitarist Graham Coxon is clearly multi-talented.

Aside from his bread and butter work as the lead guitarist for Blur - for a decade between 1991 and 2002, then again from 2007, (the gap between the dates is when he had a rift with Damon Albarn, for a year, then the band took a break from 2003 to 2007) he has also created artwork, written lyrics and sung occasional lead vocals for the band. While the other Blur members were off making cheese or retraining as a lawyer, the 43-year-old has managed an impressive output of eight solo albums. Prolific, yes. But polished? Not exactly.

Coxon seems to be a perfectionist from the way he anxiously trots around stage, twiddling knobs and pressing levers, fine-tuning the instruments throughout the night, but there's still a rough, textured quality to his sound. It ranges from up-beat soft-rock to experimental, deconstructed  noise and back to the indie rock sound that characterised Blur's music. He seldom addresses the crowd, but there's a lot of physical expression. When he creates frenetic crescendos on his Fender, (which seem to be the final flourish to almost all his pieces) he moves his head in sync with his strumming so fast you start to worry a string might break or his head might fall off.

The style is quite broad and drifts towards sounding like the Osric Tentacles with its acid rock instrumentals, making sounds like crunching metal and helicopter blades.  At other moments it's more like Kula Shaker, with mystical elements, twanging sitar-esque guitar and esoteric lyrics.

There are some self-indulgent moments, like over-extended outros that build to a  pure cacophony that's simultaneously disconcerting and psychedelic, but sometimes it's just noise. And his eagerness to demonstrate his incredible affinity with a guitar sometimes alienates the crowd. At one point he lifts the guitar onto his head and rubs it across his hair. Unsurprsingly, it doesn't sound great. Judging by their reaction, the fans love the straightforward, mainstream tracks the best, like "You & I" from his 2006 album Love travels at Illegal Speeds and "Ooh Yeh Yeh" from his new album A+E where, with his Blur-style slur, Coxon creates an upbeat Britpop vibe.

Set list

Advice

Don't Let Your Man Know

Standing on My Own Again

I Can't Look at Your Skin

I Don’t Wanna Go Out

The Truth

City Hall

Meet and Drink and Pollinate

Bah Singer

Running for Your Life

You Never Will Be

You and I

Ooh, Yeh Yeh

---

That's All I Wanna Do

Seven Naked Valleys

What'll It Take

Freakin' Out

No Good Time

Tripping Over

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