POP : Ezio Borderline, London

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The Independent Culture
Sometimes, in a back-handed sort of way, you think there really may be hope for Britain. For example, wandering down Charing Cross Road last Friday, you might have wondered who could possibly be playing the Borderline. One of London's least appetising venues, this hell-hole had a queue stretching practically to Waterloo. To see? Ezio. C'mon - obscure twosome from Cambridge; play songs of lamentation, dreams and desire on a couple of acoustics; debut LP Black Boots on Latin Feet out a year ago, good reviews, sank without trace, though it probably gets played to death at dinner parties around Islington's Canonbury Square. Further clue for stragglers: Sue Lawley.

Ah, yes - this is the band whose sound may shape a nation, for Ezio produced one of our future leader's all-time favourite tracks, as revealed on last Sunday's Desert Island Discs. Could've been a curse or a blessing, but it looked like the latter as mainman Ezio Lunedai surveyed a sea of press lenses and drily observed, "It wasn't long ago me and Booga would play to 14 people on this very stage. We should thank Mr Blair, so I have to say.... Thank you, Lionel." Amid roars, someone wailed, "But it's Tony!" "Hmm," nodded Lunedei. "Well, I'm bloody glad you know that."

News of the Radio 4 revelation had been leaked ahead of time, and the band scrutinised by the media, so we knew Lunedei to be a 35-year-old ex-chartered surveyor and Mark "Booga" Fowell a one-time biochemist. We'd heard the Blair track, "Cancel Today", a slightly depressing piece of wish-fulfilment. (Tony: "It's about wanting today to go away, which is usually how I feel every Tuesday and Thursday when Prime Minister's questions comes along.")

I'd had a listen to Black Boots in the office and been kindly offered ear plugs, because the CD sounds a bit Mark Knopfler-meets-the-Gipsy Kings, Mink Deville without the castanets. Live, you realise the recording was eviscerated by producer Rupert Hine, of Tina Turner fame. Ezio's Spanish- inflected folk-pop is visceral and ferocious, the sumo-sized Booga wigging out in bloody-fingered flamenco frenzy while Lunedei, swarthy, Latinate and throwing his locks about like Antonio Banderas's disaffected brother, matches him with much foot stamping, by grinding his guitar to shreds and by delivering rip-roaring lyrics, often about sexual obsession, drinking alone in bars, your woman marrying another guy, that stuff. That it delivers such a twist is due to Lunedei's literate writing; and when, on "Tuesday Nights", he growls threateningly "I want you... the way I want a Vibra- slim guitar", he's almost choking on longing.

So - mediocre rock for a mediocre politician? Wrong on at least one count. Glyn Brown