Ian Broudie, The Enterprise, London

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The Independent Culture

With "Lucky You", he pre-dated Dido's anodyne pop, and "Three Lions" was the soundtrack to Euro '96 jingoism.

With "Lucky You", he pre-dated Dido's anodyne pop, and "Three Lions" was the soundtrack to Euro '96 jingoism. Now, the artist who hid behind the Lightning Seeds moniker for so long has stripped away the summery production to reveal what he says is a truer picture. Not only is Ian Broudie is performing under his own name, but he is recording simpler, starker music.

Broudie's conversion was partly down to his involvement with the new generation of Liverpool bands. Having shelved The Lightning Seeds in 1999, he immersed himself in the underground scene of his native city. There, he discovered The Coral and The Zutons, going on to produce Mercury-nominated albums for both acts.

He chucked out the studio chintz to let his clients express themselves au naturel, a strategy he adopted for his own album, Tales Told, released on The Coral's own label last autumn. Tales Told is a much more understated affair than any of his Lightning Seeds work, with the wall of sound replaced by subtle use of banjo and violin that still betrays the producer's ear for scintillating arrangements.

Broudie's first London date in five years was above a pub on the fringes of Camden. His band's instruments were shoved in the corner of a space that was more front room than venue, with eager thirtysomething fans at the back perched on a mantelpiece. Gem from Oasis, Broudie's former collaborator Terry Hall and M People's Mike Pickering had to take their chances with the rest of us. One thing that had not changed was Broudie's unkempt appearance. With stubble and shaggy hair, he looked just as he did on TV in the Nineties. All that was missing was his shades.

If Tales Told is scaled back, the live show was skeletal. Broudie on acoustic strings was accompanied by double bass, electric guitar and drums, but the band were flexible enough to capture the varied flavour of Tales Told. The album borrowsfrom The Coral's love of folk and country. If anything, his band had to extend themselves further, via the reggae bassline of "Always Knocking" and "Lipstick"'s bossa nova beat.

The rough edges of live performance gave the songs a warmth that is missing from Broudie's polished recording. This benefited his wavering vocals, which are isolated by the sparse arrangements on Tales Told. There was also a quiet intensity at work. This new set of songs told of a collapsing relationship viewed with regret. In recent interviews, Broudie has avoided discussing rumours of a divorce, though signs were there. He pointedly changed the lyrics of "Pure" to the past tense, though that was less astonishing than the mournful double bass.

This was the only Lightning Seeds track Broudie played in a short half-hour set, unless you counted an effective version of The Byrds' "You Showed Me" that he had covered before. The singer was less comfortable with the slower ballads of "Tales Told", offering nowhere near enough depth to carry the bluesy "Whenever I Do".

Yet for one night at least, Broudie rose above his limitations. His disarming manner matched the venue's intimacy, giving this performance a magic he will struggle to sustain. After this fresh start, it is time he gained some hard-won credibility.

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