The Dears, The Borderline, London
The annals of music are littered with next-big-things, bands who promised much but who never managed to turn critical appraisal into commercial success. Most of them tend to sublimate away after their first album when it's clear that they aren't going to make it without eating.
The Dears were one of these bands; set to save indie with their Blur-meets-The-Smiths journo-bait – and a truly amazing album in 2003's No Cities Left. The difference is that though they never quite bit, they haven't given up. Now, suddenly, they're doggedly onto their fifth album.
They may be playing to a fifth-album crowd (a tiny room packed with aging die-hards), but they aren't playing a fifth-album show. In fact, they're shockingly resurgent, thriving on the intimacy. They've evolved into a far rockier consideration than their earlier days as high priests of the Cult of Britpop Reborn, but unabashed histrionics are clearly still on the table from song one, which climbs from Morrissey to Mogwai in four minutes.
After a couple of fairly milksop albums, main man Murray Lightburn has rediscovered his id, snarling through potent newies like "Stick with Me Kid", "Thrones" and "Blood". It's genuinely great to hear them back in attack mode – no song gets to end without the whole band having a decent thrash at it.
Lightburn himself is on very convivial – if fairly bladdered – form. He's sporting a grim-looking leg brace, but it barely dampens his mobility, let alone his enthusiasm. The band are also all smiles, significant considering all the rumours of rifts over the years. They're clearly in a good place these days.
It all leads up to a spellbinding rendition of one of the best songs of the last decade, "The Death of All the Romance". We're asked to join in the duet parts according to gender, and the show ends with a messily uproarious chantalong in the true Dears style.
Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Labour rallies behind Flint as deputy leader to offset a Corbyn win
- 2 The difference between a psychopath and a sociopath
- 3 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 4 'Cool kids' can go on to become losers in later life, study finds
- 5 Bulletproof armadillo puts Texas man in hospital after shot bounces off hard shell
Why Harry Potter's aged 35, not 26
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?
Zoolander 2 trailer leaks online and it's really, really, ridiculously good looking
Game of Thrones season 6: New toy line suggests Jon Snow is not among the dead
Game of Thrones season 6: Northern Ireland set photos leak online
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Calais crisis: The seven claims made about the migrants - and the reality