ROCK REVIEW / Safety in numbers: The Spin Doctors - Hammersmith Apollo, London

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The Independent Online
'If you're loud and annoying', observed Mel Brooks, 'psychologically, people don't notice you.' The crowd at the Spin Doctors show prove him right.

Indeed, so loud and annoying are the NYC funsters that by the fifth song, everyone seems distracted, studying the ceiling, checking watches. The balcony seems sturdy, so no chance of an Earls Court-style 11th-hour reprieve. Singer Chris Barron's back-flips look a bit risky, though. Perhaps he'll put his shoulder out in a minute.

But wait: the opening bars of the cheerfully misogynistic 'Little Miss Can't-Be- Wrong' are being unpacked, and suddenly you witness the kind of behaviour the Criminal Justice Bill aims to curtail. A smart, bearded man has moved to the edge of his seat (you've got to watch out for the quiet ones, you know). Thighs are slapped with reckless disregard for rhythm.

Buttocks are clenching and unclenching in time to the musical hoedown. We haven't seen the likes of this since Huey Lewis was in town - this lot are unstoppable] But how do the Spin Doctors irk so? Let us count the ways: a compulsion to bloat songs with meandering jams and funk-slogs which would get the average pub band glassed; titles like 'Yo Mama's a Pajama'; Chris's outfit - leggings, booties - which might have amused saucer-pupilled loafers at Woodstock II but just doesn't cut it in West London; and his choice of dance, which Eric Morecambe once described as drying your back with a towel whilst stubbing out a cigarette with your foot. He darts around striking ugly poses like a vogueing stick insect. There is an irresistible urge to stamp on him.

Let's just hope that the Government don't hear about the Spin Doctors, because they'd be ideal anti-dope mascots: they're a testament to the damage it can do. They even have an ode to the weed. It's called 'Mary Jane'. 'Mary Jane is a euphemism for marijuana', Chris explains, aware that the closest these jiving, straight-from- the-office, would-be wild cards have ever come to a spliff are those 'I like the Pope. The Pope smokes dope' T-shirts which line Camden High Street.

Legalising marijuana seemed like a neat idea. But would you want your kids turning into Chris Barron? It's not worth the risk. Safer to buy them a guitar and something harder - at least they'll have a head-start on being the next Gram Parsons.

(Photograph omitted)

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