Supergrass, Somerset House, London

Instead of three-minute pop gems, Road to Rouen consists of instrumental excursions, odd turnings and the most muso of instruments, the zither. An upcoming acoustic tour aims to further emphasise their credibility. In interviews, singer, Gaz Coombes, has hinted that the album follows a couple of difficult years for the group, what with his fatherhood and the drummer Danny Goffey's outing by the tabloids as a swinger in the Primrose Hill set. Yet Supergrass are nothing if not reliable.

They have long been a festival draw thanks to their cache of greatest hits, and they rose to the occasion in Somerset House's imposing courtyard with a selection of hits that took in a broad sweep of their career to date. The strangled yelp of "Strange Ones" harked back to the band's early days, while the twitchy funk of last year's "Kiss of Life" was just as powerful and showed they had not lost their touch. They played with exemplary precision as Mick Quinn's rock-solid bass was brought to the fore.

But despite the vibrancy of their tunes, the group had all the character of a Volvo estate. Coombes's crowd interaction ventured no further than saying "thank you" in a transatlantic accent that was even more Marc Bolan than his singing voice. The shy Quinn, meanwhile, preferred to face the drummer and hid behind a curtain of hair when he ventured forward to sing harmonies. The keyboards of Gaz's brother Rob gave added texture to the fragile "Moving", yet his stage presence was even more negligible. You soon understood why "Alright" was such a bad fit.

A spry "Sun Hits the Sky" was further enlivened by a percussionist, whose congo outro was ineffectual in the face of Goffey's pneumatic drill delivery. Then the singer and Quinn assumed sedentary positions to showcase the new material, with even Goffey settling behind a pint-sized drum kit. Now would have been an ideal time to introduce unfamiliar songs to the audience, yet Coombes treated them with the same insouciance as the rest of the set. Maybe it would not have mattered if Road to Rouen were as hook-laden as their best work, but as the pedestrian strum of the single "St Petersburg" plodded on, it was clear that Supergrass had forgotten that vital ingredient.

Even worse, the band had lost their short attention spans. Previously, they had nicked liberally from disparate, if obvious sources. A bit of mod here, a chunk of blues rock there, but bare-faced cheek and punkish urgency made it forgivable. Now in thrall to Jimmy Page's progressive tendencies, rather than his filthy riffs, the songs meandered rather than punched home.

"Tales of Endurance" only held interest as Quinn and Coombes changed instruments mid-song, the sulky line "Welcome commercial suicide" emerging as a self-fulfilling prophecy. The album's title track caught the ear with its vibrant blue-eyed soul, but then "Low C" sounded more like a B flat. The band's take on Gil Scott Heron's "Lady Day And (John Coltrane)" should have been a suitable outing for the band's love of a soulful groove, yet desperately lacked the original's urgency.

A final run around the back catalogue was eagerly welcomed by a crowd dominated by older fans, desperate to sing along to earlier successes. There was no "Alright", yet the Buzzcocks-meets-Who pizzazz of "Caught by the Fuzz" and the choppy Led Zep rifferama of "Lenny" reminded us of the group's glory days. The bath water may have become stagnant, but there was a real sense Supergrass had chucked out the baby.

Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
Crime watch: Cara Delevingne and Daniel Brühl in ‘The Face of an Angel’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
News
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss