Pop: The loon with all the tunes

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OVER THE past couple of years, it seems that Clint Boon, the former leader and keyboard player of the Inspiral Carpets, has been toodling away in Rochdale, formulating keyboard-led pop spiced with humour that he suggests should be filed under "Space Opera".

A couple of immediately catchy singles released this year on the tiny Rabid Badger imprint were supposed to mark a low profile re-entry into the pop world, but they gained significant airplay on Radio 1FM. Reams of reviews also saw critics openly admitting they'd been taken by surprise by the freshness of Boon's tongue-in-cheek pop with garage rock and psychedelic attachments.

The Inspirals always had a sense of humour lurking somewhere, and now that he has been given a free rein, Boon has created a pleasantly comic showpiece. Before the band came on, the clues were there: a banner with the Booney Tunes' logo, a cardboard cut-out of Boon himself, and his organ placed centre stage, fronted by a moose head lit up by fairy lights. Boon entered more in the manner of a stand-up comic than a pop star, encouraging the audience to whoop and cheer before he then unbuttoned his shirt to reveal that famous Inspirals T-shirt with the image of a moose bearing the legend "Cool as Fuck".

Sporting short hair, an upgrade on his previous band's moptop fashion, he also showed in the first number that his own singing was an improvement on that of Inspirals' vocalist, Tom Hinkley. The gig really didn't lift off until the third song and current single "White No Sugar", a number about Internet cafe culture graced with lines such as "creation was an anagram of reaction" and the splendid ending of "Mr Boon play that tune!". Mr Boon acknowledged the cheers and smiling faces by standing up and showing off that T-shirt again. He followed swiftly with the even better "Only One Way I Can Go", an exuberant pop classic enriched by wild klaxon sounds. The crowd seem to be booing, but really it was his nascent fanbase who have already come up with the greeting of "Boooo-ooooon!"

The rest of the songs alternated between possible future singles, such as the excellent "Comet Theme Number One" and the more laboured punky number of "Can't Keep A Good Man Down".

Though the set lasted just half an hour, it petered to a close. It wasn't their best ever performance, possibly because The Garage, with its low- slung ceiling, tiny window of a stage, and drab black walls that do work well for punk gigs, was just too cold a setting for the warmth and theatricals of a CBE show.

An encore featured the slow, eerie melody of "Not Enough Purple Too Much Grey", which was followed up by an organ-driven romp through the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog". He'd saved the night, as should be expected from a true showman who possesses a head full of tunes.

Tim Perry