Razorlight, Shepherds Bush Empire, London

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The Independent Culture

The rock version of the London marathon took place over the bank-holiday weekend: 24 hours of punters traipsing to gigs taking place across the capital as part of the Carling Live 24. Kaiser Chiefs kicked off proceedings at Brixton Academy on Friday night, followed by acts including Ian Brown and Dirty Pretty Things. The grand finale saw Razorlight swagger on to the stage of the Shepherds Bush Empire at 6.30pm on Saturday evening.

Incredibly, from the outset the crowd sing along to the lyrics of every song from Razorlight's 2004 back-to-rock-basics debut, Up All Night. The adoration is beamed at the front man Johnny Borrell. He has the audacity of a star; in a white, tight jersey - à la Freddy Mercury - and denim outfit, he is the method actor in his own stardom. Although he may at times echo Lou Reed's style, he's classically mainstream in his blokey appeal: give him a sweatband and he's a young Mark Knopfler. Borrell is convincing because he oozes character and passionately believes in his all-conquering self. Whether such egomania is mad, irritating or brilliant, it means Borrell perfectly channels the crowd's enthusiasm.

The band exploit escapist dreams and simple melodies, building to big choruses from acoustic beginnings. The audience chants along, "L-O-V-E: see you later!" in the set-opener, "Vice". Borrell hands over the singing duties for a chorus of "Golden Touch": "They're just jealous because they'll never do the things they wish that they could do so well" - perhaps a personal mantra of Borrell's. This is the second number and it feels like we are two-thirds into the gig.

The songs from the forthcoming album, In the Morning, carry echoes of The Cars and Elvis Costello, and many of them are already familiar to fans. Borrell stage-manages a clap-along to "Can't Stop This Feeling". Admittedly, at this stage in Carling 24 some people are beyond poetry: one intoxicated fan, at the end of the long haul, stumbles and falls to "Stumble and Fall".

A spiky new ballad, "Lost in America", states, "There's nothing on the radio or on TV that means that much to me - all my life in America." The surefire hit "Fall to Pieces" questions an ex-girlfriend's new squeeze: "Does he drink at the same pub as me?/ Just tell me you don't know." The "Gloria"-esque "In the City" develops into a blues-jam replete with feedback to crown the set, and the second encore is a triumphant rendition of the catchy "Somewhere Else". The crowd and band alike have outdone themselves tonight.

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