Rock: That's entertainment
Nick Hasted has been a film journalist since 1986. He writes about film, music, books and comics for The Independent, Sight & Sound, Uncut and Little White Lies. He has published two books: The Dark Story of Eminem (2002), and You Really Got Me: The Story of The Kinks (2011), both from Omnibus Press.
Friday 05 December 1997
The hard rock band come on in suits and ties, and play the theme from Midnight Cowboy. Slowly, mournfully, for six minutes. The hard rock crowd whoop with glee. don't care about proprieties. They're on stage to stretch people's minds. Their best album, 1992's Angel Dust, was better than Nirvana's Nevermind, its angst leavened with wit, happy to quote from Shostakovich or Tom Waits. Their biggest British hit is a cover of The Commodores' I'm Easy, with only a vocal flicker to suggest they didn't mean every word. The band got rid of their only cliched rock 'n' roller, guitarist Jim Martin, years ago. It leaves you more time to focus on keyboardist Roddy Bottum, hard rock's only unconcerned homosexual, and Mike Patton, a debonair singer who used to eat shit.
The band's nature dictates that nothing can be relied on. But if you stick around long enough tonight, you'll probably get what you came for. At the end of every ballad, there's a frill-free thrash, and a moshpit to take advantage. But at the end of every thrash, the mosh is jerked to a halt, as the mood spins on a dime. I'm Easy is sung with sentimental zeal, Burt Bacharach standards are dragged back to life. The band are always ready with their strangely momentous, organ-led elaborations on rock 'n' roll, Patton's voice is a portentous constant. But what stitches each strange twist together is something the band's one-time grunge contemporaries would have gagged on: Patton's unremitting sense of showmanship. He's here to entertain us.
His rock 'n' roll patter is of the smoothest kind. But Patton doesn't need to talk. Never losing the stylish cut of his suit, he smirks, emotes, howls, at one point seems about to take off, convinced he can fly. When Sparks come on for This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us, Patton bellows: "And it ain't me who's gonna leave!" you have to believe him.
But what really elevates Patton, and , is something new to rock 'n' roll. Being excessive is always valid. Patton's taste for shit means he's done his share. But bad behaviour isn't enough, eventually. can always summon their rock 'n' roll pasts. But they've also got the dignity to see it from a distance, with wit. They're more elevating than grunge ever was. It's probably why the genre's goldmine was never their's. They've got something better: a shit-eating singer with a brain, and music that does him justice.
`This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us' (Roadrunner), 's joint single with Sparks, is out now; finish their British tour at Glasgow Barrowlands tonight (0141-552 4601).
Life & Style blogs
The Evil Within preview: a survival horror fan’s best worst nightmare
36-year-old skeleton of dead baby found inside Indian woman
Porn film production 'must stop in Los Angeles' after actor tests positive for HIV
Anal sex study reveals climate of 'coercion'
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
- 1 Unseen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chapter deemed 'too subversive' released
- 2 Ebola virus: It's ripped through towns – now the deadliest ever outbreak of the virus is heading for Africa's teeming cities
- 3 Joan Rivers: 'Palestinians deserve to be dead'
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Salary/Rate: £32,000/annum: M&E Global Resources Ltd: Description/Main Duties ...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...