Jim Noir, Kings College, London

Lucky Jim is bowled over
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The Independent Culture

Times are hard for starving musicians, so when The Man comes your way bearing wads of cash and free trainers for life in return for one of your precious songs, it must be hard to refuse. Jack White's imminent Coca-Cola love-in was, without a doubt, ill-advised (not to mention, rather sinister), but for an up-and-coming musician like Jim Noir, lending his song "Eanie Meany" for Adidas's World Cup advert has provided a much-needed leg-up.

The difference is felt tonight. Dressed in his trademark bowler hat and a red Sergeant Pepper-style military jacket, the skinny, modishly handsome singer is evidently dumbfounded by the gig's turnout. It's only his second headline show in London, but the sweltering King's College union is sold out, and packed to the rafters with near-hysterical, bowler-hatted fans. "There's a lot of you, aren't there," he says, gazing at us in disbelief.

In December, the 24-year-old Mancunian's debut album Towers of Love - which he single-handedly recorded and produced in his home studio - was acclaimed by every Beach Boys-loving music hack in the country. It was a breath of fresh air in a musical climate full of low-rent post-punk pastiches: a Sixties-fixated burst of sunshine in a cold, dark month, full of whimsical, perfectly constructed pop songs.

The leap from bedsit to stage is seamless. With a four-piece (and equally, modishly handsome) band behind him - including the bantering double-act of Jack Cooper (guitar) and Phil Anderson (keys) providing comic relief and pitch-perfect West Coast harmonies - the music jangles and grooves to life.

One thing's for sure: Jim Noir can write a tune - and he tosses them aside casually, in between introducing his on-stage gnomes, Dennis and Bruno, and joshing with the audience. "In The Key of C" is a swooning, lyrically simple tribute to his favourite key. The retro, Beatles-esque stylings of the spookily gorgeous "Computer Song" jars playfully with its very 21st-century subject of faulty laptops ("Everytime I try to make a silly little song/My efforts are all wasted 'cause machinery goes wrong"). The Advert Song is disposed of humorously, with Phil showing off his free trainers.

But evidently, this is not an audience of glory supporters: the biggest cheer of the night comes for recent single "My Patch", a song built around a single, ukelele-led refrain, in which Jim threatens to throttle anyone who steps into his garden (or something), delivered with a sweet-as-pie wink, and with a middle-eight straight out of Pet Sounds. Hundreds of bowler hats and mini footballs (provided by Adidas, of course) go whizzing in the air, and once again, Jim looks utterly overawed. He'll probably be playing venues twice as big within the year, but you get the feeling that he still won't believe his luck.