Pop & Jazz: Live: Slow death by self-satisfaction
Gay Dad/Mansun Nme Premier Shows Astoria London
Friday 29 January 1999
Expectations were running so high on Friday night that I began to feel pangs of sympathy for them in their seemingly insurmountable task. But I needn't have bothered. Gay Dad glowed as if they had just gorged themselves on special rock-star Ready Brek. Their streaky mop-tops gave them the perfect balance of glamour and grimy indie chic, and there wasn't a thread out of place in their dishevelled attire.
Gay Dad's penchant for epic glam rock mixed with belligerent punk made for an energising show. Their rallying cries of "come on" and "let's go" recall the high jinks of Supergrass - though even Supergrass might blush at the line "Aerosmith rule!" - while there were periodic nods to Bowie and Bolan. The band's first single, "To Earth With Love," had been available for only four days, but the crowd recited it as flawlessly as if it had already been canonised among the classics.
Since they prefer to look back for their inspiration instead of forwards, it would be a pity if the future of rock'n'roll were in Gay Dad's hands. But they will pass the time pleasantly until something better comes along.
If Gay Dad looked pleased with themselves, Mansun were positively smug. The singer Paul Draper paid scant attention to his fans; instead he shuffled about the stage with an affected camp that was apparently modelled on Jarvis Cocker's stage antics, but made him look severely unhinged.
Mansun's songs have a way of winding their way into your consciousness uninvited - I was able to hum along with more tracks than I would have liked - but there is an air of conceit about them that outweighs their musical credibility. Prolonged instrumental sequences failed to hold the attention, while the epic quality of recorded material was notably absent. Worst of all were Draper's drama-school vocals. They were so nasal that I was shocked to discover that he had his mouth open at all.
If Britpop was a pastiche of the Sixties and Seventies, then Mansun are a pastiche of that pastiche. As they trawled unimaginatively through the songbooks of Blur, Elastica and Shed Seven, they served as a glaring illustration of how truly dead Britpop is.
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