Johnny Borrell's earliest comments to the NME are continually thrown back at him by his detractors (he apparently used the words "genius" and "best songwriter of my generation" in describing himself, or thereabouts). But his more recent interviews seem to suggest that he's learned a little humility.
It must be a difficult balancing act for any wannabe rock god. You have to exude absolute self-confidence, even if all you're saying is you don't really have an opinion about something – yet you should ideally do it in an unassuming manner that suggests you don't consider yourself any better than the ordinary fans who put you where you are.
If Borrell can be considered a pop genius, he's more of a Bill Gates (one who creates something popular, accessible and ultimately functional) than an Albert Einstein (one who helps define the universe itself). This stadium show demonstrated that he and his band have a capable familiarity with a nice radio song, from the catchy, urgent "In the Morning" to the breezy "Golden Touch". Yet the show is so crowd-pleasingly pleasant, it feels like the latter-day pomp and circumstance of Oasis minus the early years of rugged, energising era-definition. The stage set-up is spectacular, bordering on the Spinal Tap-gaudy: the band's name is spelled out in huge, shimmering letters, while the stairs to the drum riser are lit brightly from within in showy "Live From the Palladium" style.
The crowd is mixed, from stationary couples to young families with mid-teen children, but it's mostly beery, student-age Pete and Kate dressalikes, clawing and scratching at the heels of a zeitgeist that's already fleeing from them.
Considering this fan base, Borrell's performance is suitably sexed-up to the point of neutrality. Having essayed a no-complaints set that's heavy on recognisable hits like "Fall to Pieces", "Vice" and "America", he strips down to his skinny white jeans for the epic (ie long) closer "In the City". The female portion of the crowd coos audibly, Borrell crouches and gazes wistfully into the middle distance, and his family-friendly Jim Morrison impression is duly noted and rated. He's not the Messiah, it seems – he's just a slightly naughty boy.Reuse content