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Grown Up Supergrass Are Alright

Published on August 9th 2005.

Last time I saw Supergrass, it was a right old cockney knees up at the Ally Pally (Alexandra Palace) which left us stood around all day Hank Marvin (starvin’) on our slabs of meat (feet) before falling down the apples and pears (stairs). But would you Adam and Eve it (believe it)? They’ve grown up a bit and are now even performing at maturer venues like last night’s trip to the Royal Northern College of Music.

The Ally Pally gig was a beer soaked extravaganza which found fresh faced (but still covered in humungous sideburns) Supergrass as the new Brit-pups, supporting Blur at the height of their Parklife fame, along with the emerging talent of Jarvis Cocker's Pulp. The sideburns were still very much there last night, but so was a distinctively more grown up, and better oiled, band than the cheeky charlies belting out ‘Alright’ that I saw over ten years ago.

Don’t get me wrong, they still played the likes of 'Caught By The Fuzz' and 'Back of the Bus' from debut album 'I Should Coco', both novelty songs that got them noticed in their early days maybe, but even this ignorance of growing up couldn’t expand to a rendition of 'Alright' – “We are young, we are free, we’ve got teeth nice and clean” doesn’t quite wash anymore, although the amount of alcohol that passed down most people’s necks at the interval might still have left everyone still singing along to the blatant lie. And as my mate Ginger John said last night, imagine how embarrassed the Stones still feel playing "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" well into their 60s.

The venue itself is a sight to behold. A bit like MTV unplugged, the Royal Northern College of Music suits sets like the specifically acoustic one played last night by ‘The Grass’ but was, as they admitted themselves, the first time they’ve made a move into the ‘quite-scary-if-you’re-a bit-crap’ style of live performance. The venue has been used in the past by the likes of Ed Harcourt and others willing to show a subtle side to their tunes.

With new album, 'Rode to Rouen', out next week, Gaz Coombes and his gang of werewolves took the stage, mostly in hats (to protect themselves from the moonlight?), and some in folky-style braces to play some of their new stuff, but the majority of the first half of the gig was taken up by a swift delve into their early back catalogue. Starting off with new single, 'St Petersburg', out today actually, Gaz started off on his own, surrounded by nothing but the items of someone’s living room, with some of the props became slightly awkward, a fact proved as one of the roadies clattered into a lampshade mid-set sending it flying. The rest of the band filtered through after the first song.

All the albums were touched upon - 'In It For The Money' and 'The X-Ray Album' getting particularly close focus. Hits ranged from 'Late in the Day', 'Kiss Of Life' and 'Sun Hits The Sky' followed, whilst a great rendition of 'Moving' and 'Grace' came later on in the set.

Benefits of doing a set like this include the fantastic setting, organs on the wall, great seats, great acoustics. Also comes the intimacy for fans to be being able to see a band they’ve grown up with basically, in their own room – there was only about 350-400 people there and that was a sell out. The downside of being this close to a band is the ‘idiot’ factor. You obviously don’t notice heckling at a proper full on gig, but when the lad behind you says ‘That was Super’ really loud and for the tenth time, a slap is in the offing. Why do people think things like that are funny? Its not like we didn’t hear him the first time. The ‘Come on the Grass’ shout outs were a bit cringeworthy too, certainly not something we’d want to see at such a grown up gig!

Tim Gough

Royal Northern College of Music
124 Oxford Road
Telephone: +44 (0)161 907 5555
Web: www.rncm.ac.uk

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