Pop: Like Eddie Izzard in a strop
Friday 02 October 1998
TIN STAR, Baby Bird's support act, left us all a little present on our seats: a promo tape. I was grateful for this gift on two counts. One: I had missed their support spot. Two: I can now confirm that the spirit of INXS, replete with drum and bass trimmings, will live on into the third millennium.
If you have made a name for yourself by demanding silence from your audience, you had better be prepared for the evening when you get it.
A few years ago, Stephen Jones, the prime mover behind Baby Bird, notoriously suggested Madame Tussaud's as a more suitable venue for a couple of chatty EFL students who had interrupted a London gig. Tuesday night's audience had taken note. It was obviously appreciative but deferential to a fault.
If, as mitigation, you bore in mind the pop myth that surrounds Baby Bird (no creation of the group's, it should be added), you may have put up with Jones's irascibility. A generous man might even say his eccentric stage presence - imagine Eddie Izzard in a strop - is a wheeze, too.
But notwithstanding the disappointing venue, the gig fell into a depressing rhythm: song, applause, snipe from Jones about lack of atmosphere, attempt by audience members to create atmosphere, snipe from Jones about attempt by audience members to create atmosphere.
It is to everyone's credit that neither Jones, nor the rest of Baby Bird, nor the audience quite lost their tempers. For this we can probably thank the songs, whose quality, despite the minor critical backlash that has been directed at Baby Bird, remains undiminished.
By and large mid-tempo, with simple guitar parts and anchored by unfussy synthesizers, they are very effective vehicles for Jones's unabashed vocals, and even better as faux-naif settings for his lyrics' macabre dramatising. Nine - or is it 10? - albums on, Jones's bellow stills sounds like a flat Neil Diamond, its bathetic quality suiting his pessimistic disposition perfectly.
In fact, it is Jones's epigrammatic facility which serves him best. "I'm too handsome to be homeless," he sang at one point with his customary bile, a tone he also brought to the refrain in "All Men Are Evil": "Then the sun comes up/And I can't get a tan /Oh yeh, I'm happy now''. Jones's reflections on love in "You Bring The Sunshine" are, if anything, more disturbing, confirming him and Jarvis Cocker as pop's two scariest snogs.
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
- 2 Christians: The world's most persecuted people
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
- 5 Ross Burden dead: MasterChef and Ready Steady Cook star dies at age 45
'Phallic symbols' found hidden in famous Pre-Raphaelite painting 'Isabella' by John Everett Millais
Game of Thrones season 4 blooper reel unveiled at Comic-Con 2014
Top Gear Burma episode breached Ofcom rules over Jeremy Clarkson's racial slur
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Coolio has sold his soul to Pornhub
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air