Monday, July 31, 2006

Single Releases 31/07/06

What a god damn awful week it is for singles. Sure the latest Aguillera effort and the Paris single hit the shops this week - I believe that in some towns and cities you are still able to buy singles in the shops - but other than that it seems to be a whole load of records that I'm supposed to like but don't actually like at all (and let's be honest, those two efforts are only decent rather than brilliant).

To wit, you would think I'd love The Similou's 'All This Love' due to its funky electro pop beat but in actual fact it took all of one listen for me to get completely bored with the track. In a similar vein, Captain's 'Glorious' got a lot of cricial acclaim which had me curious about it and looking forward to hearing it. When I did however I was, well, bored very quickly with it.

Then take 'Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off' by Panic! At The Disco. It's quite a fun title isn't it? But quite frankly I hate the song itself. But then lets face it, I don't really like any of the other stuff they've done so that is hardly a surprise.
And lets face it, 'I'm Not Shy' by Frank proves what a rubbish week for singles this is. Yes, this is another rubbish one but it's such a poor week for singles that this is actually one of the better efforts this week. I mean come on, it's Frank we're talking about here.

I could carry on, dissecting the latest from TV On The Radio (I mean come on, isn't they only reason they're at all "famous" that David Bowie said he liked them) or The Raconteurs new one (which just proves that Steady As She Goes really was a fluke) but I've lost the will to carry on for this week.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope

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Well CSS still hasn't arrived, and indeed I am beginning to fear it's got lost on its transatlantic journey, but thanks to the wonders of the modern age, the reviews can continue thanks to me picking up a copy of Regina Spektor's new album.

Some people might be surprised to learn this is her 5th album, although her 4th was a compilation of the first 3, and this of course brings with it some baggage. A numeber of her fans are bemoaning the more commercial sound of this album compared to its predecessors, and they might have a point. But the point is not that Regina has "gone commercial" (and indeed folks, precious few musicians ever make a record in the hope it won't sell well) its that whilst there is a more "radio-friendly" edge to this compared to its predecessors, it's hardly Orson-like rock-lite and it still contains everything that made you love Regina in the first place.

Take the wonderful Apres Moi for instance; it's difficult to imagine any other pop record this year, or any year for that matter, so catchily encompassing classical piano, biblical references and Russian heritage in five minutes of bliss. Or take Hotel Song; given its almost electro pop backing it wouldn't be out of place on a Girls Aloud album on first listen, you don't get many lyrics about dreaming of Orca whales and bags of cocaine on the latest Xenomania smash.

To be fair, the album does start off somewhat more conventionally, Better is the kind of song Daniel Powter wouldn't turn down and On The Radio is another track with a "poppy" backing, and long term fans have to be patience to get to the tracks which are more like the Regina of "old". Newer fans may well have to take a few listens to really fall in love with her but no matter how long you have, or haven't, known of Regina, eventually this album will get you. It's that good.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


You see I KNEW one wouldn't be enough.

Here's Chris Lowe, of the Pet Shop Boys, in his Neighbours cameo.

As an aside , I once walked past Kimberly Davies in New York's Central Park. I do lead a rich life don't I?

Slow News Week

Ok, so my Cansei De Ser Sexy CD still hasn't arrived, and I've no money to buy anything else, so to tide you over till I get something to review, here is a little clip of my favourite woman in the world, Jenny Lewis, in the "olden" days when she guested on Roseanne.

Thanks to "Sublime50lbc", whoever you are. And who knows, this inagural youtube clip might even start a trend for me and I might post more in the future.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Single Releases 24/07/06

It Hurts (Angels & Airwaves) - You've heard their debut right? Well this one sound almost exactly the same but, crucially, isn't as good as the first one...and the first one wasn't so hot in the first place.

Hypnotic (Craig David) - He's still plugging away isn't he. Surely he must give up the ghost soon; mind you, this sounds like he already has.

Save Us (Feeder) - One of their slower ones and, as such, really not my cup of tea.

Stars Are Blind (Paris Hilton) - Well really this is the kind of thing that you don't want to like. Indeed many won't even give it a chance for varying reason but you know me, I'm willing to listen to anything at least once. And if you ignore the fact that Miss Hilton probably had very little to do with this other than turning up to "sing" it's actually quite the summery hit pop song. Yes it's a little like Gwen Stefani doing a UB40 cover, but that doesn't need to be a bad thing. Of course you just know that this is the only good song she'll ever do.

Get Together (Madonna) - Hmm, its a strange week when Paris Hilton can out-do Madonna in the catchy singles department but although I do like this tune, it's a litte pedestrian for a single. As part of the album it's great, as a stand-alone track it's not the best she's ever done.

Monster Hospital (Metric) - Ok so they're a bit ramshackle at times, but I do like Metric and this is a catchy number. I fought the law and the law won indeed. Will it be a hit...? Well come on, I'm championing them so of course it won't be!

Borderline (Michael Gray) - As in, "borderline sounds like those other two songs you did a while back".

Song B (Mumm-ra) - If I was 12/13 again this would quite probably be the coolest thing in the world; as it stands I can admire it's perky pop charms without quite getting too carried away.

Snitch (Obie Trice) - I liked that one about Teeth he did. He was quite humourous then. Now he's gone all gangsta and it's almost as laughable as when Christina Millan tried that route.

Minimal (Pet Shop Boys) - Officially their best single since 1993's Can You Forgive Her (which is not to say that their entire output since then has been bad) and quite probably is hanging around the verge of being one of their 10 best singles ever. I've not got around to remixing my own version yet, but I'll be sure to find some way of posting it here when I do.

Trouble (Ray Lamontagne) - This guy is a bit of an acquired taste I suppose. And it's not a tatse I've acquired.

Sensitivity (Shapeshifters) - Mmm, this is ok but isn't actually good. I doubt it will get the success of Lola's Theme.

Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol) - There are some bands who I don't particularly like who have big success but I can see why they have huge hits and big followings. Snow Patrol are not one of those bands. Their appeal totally passes me by and dirges like this have little chance of me changing my mind.

Tell Me Why (Supermode) - So ok, a while back I bemoaned the trend for taking early 80's "classics", giving them a techno beat and having large breasted women in the video...but occasionally the rule proves the exception. Becuase this takes the Bronksi Beat "Smalltown Boy" riff, and that is genius.

You Only Live Once (The Strokes) - The Strokes annoy me really. I hear a new song of theirs for the first time and invariably think that it's quite catchy but then by the time I get to the end of it, I'm already sick of it. This is another of those occasions.

You're My Flame (Zero 7) - It's another slice of ok chilled ambience that never quite makes it off the ground.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lily Allen - Alright Still

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Well, the backlash has already begun and her album hasn't been out a week. There seems to be a plethora of reviews that slate poor Lily, often based on the fact that a) she's got a famous father, b) her myspace "campaign" was no more organic than Sandi Thom's "Tooting Basement" series of gigs and c) her storytelling style can't possibly be feted when she's so obviously middle class and hasn't really lived the life she portrays. Well a) we can't hold that against her, even if the father in question is a bit of a pratt, b) so what? and c) well no-one lambasts Mike Skinner for being middle class do they?

But you see, I didn't hate "Smile...It Confuses People" because of the hype; I hated it because the hype was proved to be totally unwarented. She could be the devil incarnate and I would still like her if she had the tunes. But the whole Sandi Thom "thing" died the moment you realise the tunes are rubbish.

Thankfully, Lily Allen does have the tunes (although we knew that already) and she's enough for an album full. Her intention was to deliver an album where every song could be a single and to be fair she's not far off. Smile deservedly cracked the number one spot, and LDN probably would have done the same thing if it hadn't been a limited release. Still the two singles are by no means the only high spots. Friday Night mimmicks the Specials to great effect, Knock 'Em Out is even funnier than Smile and just when you think it's all wisecracks and drunk nights out, The Littlest Things is a sorrowful break-up tune that anyone who's struggled to get over an ex will identify with.

True, its not quite all perfect; if the sublime Nan You're A Window Shopper had gotten the sample clearance and replaced the plodding and dull Take What You Take, we really would have had an across the board winner. But only one real duff track on such a highly hyped record? You can't beat that these days can you?

And for the second album in a row a gripe about the Mercury awards. Seemingly Lily was considered but certain critics (such as Lauren Laverne) claimed "she doesn't really mean it, isn't very committed as a performer." That would be the Lauren Laverne who loved her music career so much that she jacked it in to become a TV presenter....but again, they were never really going to nominate a pop record by a woman were they? Because whilst we have to have the token jazz/classical/record that won't sell very many in the list, pop just doesn't cut it with the Mercury's does it?

We Are The Pipettes - The Pipettes

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It's no secret that I'm in love with Rose/Rosay (however they're spelling it this week - although really, spelling it like Rosay brings chilling reminders of Kevin and Sally Webster in Coronation Street - "Rosay your tea's ready - chips and beans"...yes quite....) but it's also no secret that I in no way allow any bias to affect my music reviews.

So believe me, when I tell you that this is one of the finest pop records you'll hear this year, I really do mean it. From start to finish this is an utter delight.

Ironically it opens with the one track that does deviate from the 60's girl harmonies template, We Are The Pipettes, which brings to mind the B-52's (back when they were good) and works well as a clarion call to arms for the rest of the album.

None of the songs outstay their welcome (indeed the 14 tracks clock in at around 35 minutes in total) but it's very hard to pick out a duff one.

Yes the singles Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me and Pull Shapes are perhaps the outright pick of the bunch, but there is much more to savour on this catchy collection. ABC and It Hurts To See You Dance So Well are my particular favourites, but like I said, I couldn't really single any particular song out as being awful.

Of course some critics have labelled them as one trick ponies (and yes, I have made passing mention to that myself) but that kind of misses the point. No-one accused Oasis of being one-trick ponies after Definately Maybe (although some might well think that now ;-D); they concentrated on what a great record it is. Similarly at this particular moment does it really matter what The Pipettes might follow this up with? Not really, all that counts at this moment in time is that this album is an infectious belter.

Something that could well have slipped into ill-advised pastiche has actually turned out to be one of the finds of the year. Crafted with serious intentions, but with a knowing wink, the album could well turn out to be the soundtrack of the summer.

And on this day when the Mercury nominations were announced, it's regretable that this wasn't on the shortlist. Still, what chance does a pop album by three women have hey?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Single Releases 17/07/06

Please Please (McFly) - I quite like McFly to be honest. Sure, some of the stuff they do is pretty rubbish but when they get it right they get it right. And thankfully this is one of the occasions when they get it right. So yes, this is rather brilliant.

Unfaithful (Rhianna) - Sadly Rhianna, much like an ex of mine with a similar name, couldn't quite keep it going. (Although to be fair at least Rhianna is quite open about her cheating on this song, quite UNLIKE an ex of mine with a similar name - love, the fact I saw you kissing the chef kind of gave it away). Whereas SOS was, quite literally, brilliant, this is, quite literally, rubbish. But then I've never been one of big pop ballads.

Tell Me Baby (Red Hot Chilli Peppers) - After the brilliant reviews that Stadium Arcadium garnered I would expect more from the Second single from it. This isn't bad, but its very much run of the mill punk-funk. Or whatever.

Eleanor Put Your Boots On (Franz Ferdinand) - On the other hand I doubt this is what a casual fan of the Franz would expect from them, but I kinda like it. And let's face it, it's still better than anything the Kaiser Chiefs have ever done.

Smiley Faces (Gnarls Barkley) - No, quite simply no. If this was by a band who hadn't had one of the singles of the year in "Crazy" then this wouldn't get half the praise it seems to be acquiring. This is the place where homage becomes tired pastiche. Yes, the fat lad can sing, but it doesn't change the fact this is a poor record.

You Give Me Something (James Morrison) - Great, just what we need, another erstwhile sensitive singer-songwriter earnestly strumming his guitar. I'd blame James Blunt but, truth be told, old Blunty isn't that bad. It's not his fault that record companies are seeking out his clones.

Never Gonna Be The Same (Sean Paul) - Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Avoid at all costs.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

American V - Johnny Cash

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Johnny Cash is, quite simply, an Icon. And there is no way I could be unbiased about this album. The fact that he's "in fashion" now in no way lessens his greatness. Whether he's in or out of fashion doesn't matter, Cash will alawys be the very definition of "cool" to me.

The American recordings enabled Cash to reclaim his critical credibility (if not always transferring to commercial success - not all of the American albums were huge sellers) so this, his supposed final album (bear in mind a 6th collection of Rubin-produced recordings is apparently in the pipe-line), is not a surprise but it's an almost unconfortable feeling as you listen to his final recordings.

The spectre of death looms large and Cash has always been a man fully aware of his own mortality. As a result you may need some hankies within reaching distance when you listen to this (or maybe it's just me - if you can manage to watch the video to his Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" you might just about be ok although if you can do that I suspect you haven't got a soul) although the end result is never depressing.

Highlights include The 309 (Cash's final composition), the Hank Williams cover On The Evening Train and God's Gonna Cut You Down (which Moby fans might remember). Newcomers to Johnny Cash may not find themselves instantly converted if they made this their first port of call, but if you've ever liked a Johnny Cash song in your life, this is something you just have to listen to.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Webb Sisters - Daylight Crossing

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In this mad musical world in which we live in, The Webb Sisters have been labelled a "Priorty Act" by their record company. And believe you me, that's not becuase they've a fresh and original sound which is unlike anything you've ever heard before...indeed the sticker on the front of the CD labels it "Rumours for the 21st Century and it seems perfectly placed to appeal to Radio 2 listeners.

So far, so cynical then. But whilst the more jaded amongst us may bemoan such an act, its only fair to give it a proper listen with an open mind. And when you do, the cynicism floats away...almost.

I Still Hear It, Please, Boomering and Everything Changes show that The Webb Sisters might not be the identikit Radio 2 demographic band that you first think. Of course some of the album is a trifle dull, and its difficult to know exactly how to take the mass of publicity which insists that the sisters indeed are feisty and have "minds of their own" and shouldn't be labelled as Middle Of The Road pop.

Still, its a promising debut and has enough great tracks to suggest that something really special could be forthcoming next time. But of course, only time will tell. In the meantime this will probably be a huge success, and for the most part it deserves to be.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Single Releases 10/07/06

I don't have the time this week for my usual "in-depth" singles review piece, so here is a quick rundown, complete with A-Level grades for the tracks. Although bear in mind, I don't have the helpful "mark them as correct even if they're stupid" attitude A-Level markers seem to have.

Cheshire Cat Smile (Milburn) - B
Deadwood (Dirty Pretty Things) - C
Eanie Meanie (Jim Noir) - B-
Home (Rooster) - D-
Hurricane Glass (Catherine Feeney) - B+
I Love My Chick (Busta Rhymes) - C-
Insistor (Tapes N Tapes) - B
I Spy (Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly) - B-
I Still Hear It (The Webb Sisters) - B
I Will Follow You Into The Dark (Death Cab For Cutie) - C
Losing A Friend (Nylon) - D
Mama (Plan B)- C
Stand By Me (Shayne Ward) - F
The Rose Of My Cologne (The Beautiful South) - D
Voodoo Child (Rogue Traders) - B-
Words Get In The Way (Richard Ashcroft) - C-
You Only Live Once (The Strokes) - B+

Am I being too harsh?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Metric - Live It Out

I've reviewed this before (check out the May 2006 archives) but it apparently gets an official UK release this week.

So despite me thinking I was behind the times, I'm actually WAY in front of them in a UK style.

So please, check them out. The album is great.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Pipettes LIVE

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Well wouldn't you know it, I got stuck on Poolstock again. "Grrr" and all that.

Fairly straightforward trip to Manchester after that though and only the one circular path around the G-Mex this time to find parking for the wonderful Life Cafe.

And, as is becoming quite the habit these days, a pre-show drink turned into yet another episode of "Female Pop Stars stalk Matt & Alan" as this week we were "joined" by the Pipettes. Who are bloody lovely might I add. Little was I to know that this would be the best view I got of them all-night, but more of that later. ( I should also point out that we were also joined at one point by one of the support acts, the 1990's - but we didn't know who they were at that point).

So anyways, it was off to the venue in time to catch the last of the first support act. I can't remember their names off hand, (i'll check and EDIT it in later) but they were ok, if you like the sound of a Weezer-esque band who aren't as good as Weezer. The second support act, the afforementioned 1990's, were actually quite good. They certainly got my feet stomping on quite a few occasions, and really there aren't enough rock bands who "whoooooo" during their songs (and yes, I did attempt to "whoooo" along with them). One to perhaps look out for.

So onto the main event...not that I could see the stage. Some amongst us may like the sweaty close up atmosphere of a gig like this, and whilst I'm not immune to swaying in the thronging masses, there's not much joy when you're at a venue where if you're not in the first two rows you can hardly see a damn thing.

Still, despite that minor irritant (which I somewhat negated with a perilous balancing act on the mixing desk) you couldn't really complain about the concert itself. Of course I'm quite familiar with a lot of the tracks already (ahh, the wonders of the internet) but there weren't any tracks that were let downs.

Particular favourites would have been the sublime singles Dirty Mind, Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me and Pull Shapes, along with Why Did You Stay, Tell Me What and the ever delightful We Are The Pipettes. Sure the concert was short (clocking in somewhere in the region of 35 minutes) and, yes, the Pipettes are somewhat of a one-trick pony, but when they're as good as this, all that doesn't really matter. So much so, that I've already booked tickets for the September tour. I'd advise you to do the same whilst you still can...the Pipettes are about to go massive.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Julie Roberts - Men & Mascara

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You see once in a while, normally when I'm in HMV or some other such establishment that actually sells Country records other than Johnny Cash or the Dixie Chicks, I get an urge to buy a Country album. In the mid to late 90's I did it quite a lot (man, I wish they still had CMT on in the UK) but that's tailed off over the years, mainly because I can buy enough crap I wouldn't normally do off Amazon and the such like.

But this week, the urge got me again. And for little other reason than the fact I saw her on the front of a Country magazine and she shares my last name, I found myself purchasing the latest album by Julie Roberts, the cringeworthily titled Men & Mascara. In fact, and I kid you not, I knew before I'd even played the CD that "men and mascara always run" would be a lyric. And I wasn't disappointed.

So really you could say that you know what you are getting before you even stick this CD in the player. But then something strange happens; you stick it in and its not the usual knee slapping Nashville hoe-down that you would expect from a pretty face. In fact if this album has a theme it's heartbreak. And it's heartbreak so lyrically nailed on that you can't help but get sucked into the record. Even the upbeat songs, such as the rather catchy First To Never Know, hide yet more heartbreak.

Men are bastards who only want sex, but women can't help themselves from falling in love seems to be the underlying message. And whilst it may not be the message you would want to teach the children of the world, the effect is producing a record that is far removed from the cliched Nashville world we have come to expect. Yes, sonically the album could be by any one of the identikit beauties trying to make their way in Country music (and in a way that will surely help the record to gain favour with the Country radio stations), but this is a record that forges an identity of it's own.

Country enough to appeal to that market, but sassy and vibrant enough to deserve to find a wider market, this turns out to be quite the delight.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Nouvelle Vague - Band A Parte

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See on the one hand, the first Nouvelle Vauge album was quite the gem and so you greatly look forward to hearing the second. But on the other hand, when you get to the nitty gritty, are the Vague not just one-trick ponies who might rapidly wear out their welcome?

Well as ever, the answer lies somewhere in between. There is little change in the "bossa nova covers of classic (and some not-so-classic) songs" and those that there is, such as the addition of a male singer for a crack at Blondie's Heart Of Glass and Siouxsie and The Banshees' Israel, seem little more than blatant attempts to stretch the formula ever thinner.

But then you hear something as sweepingly beautiful as their take on Yazoo's Don't Go, something as startingly different to the original as Bauhaus' Bela Lugoi's Dead, or something as daringly disrespectful as covering New Order's Blue Monday and you realise that even if for a brief moment, Nouvelle Vague are capable of something very special indeed.

Not all the tracks can't match up of course, Fade To Grey being a particular disappointment, but on the swingometer of quality, there's more on the plus side than the negative. For the most part, you know what you're getting and if you've heard the first album then there is little that will surprise you. Still, if you liked the first album, then you'l like this. And no doubt you'll be hearing a few of these tunes on a TV advert near you quite soon.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Just My Luck

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Ok, so this isn't a film site, but having reviewed Walk The Line due to it's Johnny Cash theme, why not take the time to review Just My Luck, which might also be known as "McFly's attempt to break America".

You might say I'm quite the afficianado of Lindsay Lohan films. They span the path from brilliance (Mean Girls) to utter shite (Herbie:Fully Loaded) via diversionary fun (Freaky Friday).

Now this is supposed to be her first "adult" role, although I cannot see why it's been labelled as that. It's got McFly in it for god's sake, and is hardly a million script miles from the afforementioned Freaky Friday. That said it is a million miles away from the "quality" of that one.

Lohan does her best, but is unable to save what is, essentially, an unlikeable character. And if I, who shall we say likes Miss Lohan a fair bit, don't like her character, then I can't see many others doing so either. Although to be fair, Lohan does a great job during the middle when her luck has disappeared, so much so that you, well ok, I was quite angry when she decided to steal her luck back.

I'm not spoiling too much of the film here (firstly because it's so bleeding obvious what's going to happen the moment you start watching and secondly I can't see too many people who read this ever seeing the film anyway), but basically Lohan is very lucky, then she kisses some bloke, at a Masquerade ball, who's not so lucky and then wouldn't you just know, their luck swaps. Thankfully for McFly this bloke is their manager and then they get a recording deal (although quite why a Notorious BIG "playa" boss of a record label would be signing McFly is never explained) as a result of this new found luck. Then Lohan works out that this nice bloke is the one who took her luck she sneaks in for a snog and then runs off. Of course this means one of McFly goes missing, but lo and behold, Lohan's conscience saves the day, she kisses the bloke back, and the day is well and truly saved.

Lohan tries, but is hamstrung by a weak script which whilst having it's moments never really convinces. There's no real sexual chemistry between Lohan and the male lead (they should have put me up there, THEN the sparks would have flown) and for all the hoohah McFly are hardly in it (and when they are they are invariably playing Five Colours In Her Hair...which is a decent enough pop tune, but starts to grate the 43rd time you've heard it in an hour) although they are likeable enough without ever actually showing any talent for acting.

Of course after this assasination on the flim, I did quite enjoy it and the 90 or so minutes flew by, but unlike the absolutely superb Mean Girls, I don't think I'll be in a rush to see this one again.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pet Shop Boys LIVE

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So, it was off to the Liverpool Summer Pops for the only North-West date the Pet Shop Boys appear to have planned for 2006 (although a conversation with some foxy woman prior to the show lead me to believe that a "full" UK tour will return to these shores sometime after the US tour this fall.

The support act were Client. Who were alright, but not brilliant and were more memorable for the fact that the lead singer was the woman who used to be the lead singer for Dubstar. Who back in the day were one of my faves.

Anyway, enough of that and on with the main show. We had great seats (almost perfect seats for a Chris Lowe fan) and the atmosphere was definately good. The lights went down and the theme to Psycho swirled around the arena.

After a slew of look-a-likes had fooled most of the crowd (but not me - with my side on view I could see all the backstage shenanigans) the boys came out and, surprisingly, belted straight into Psychological. Now as a scene-setter for Fundamentalism, this track does it job; as a scene-setter for a concert it was less suitable. Still as soon as the next track, Left To My Own Devices, kicked in, all was forgiven.

From that point, the crowd were in the palm of their hands. With Fundamental being somewhat of a return to form this meant that even the new tracks were met with delight. I'm With Stupid baited Bush and Blair as ever, the twitching curtains that made up the backdrop to Suburbia were a touch of genius (even if I don't really like the song itself all that much) and a great version of Minimal was followed by the welcome return of Shopping to the PSB live set list.

A superb version of Rent was only marred by the fact that it was sung without Neil on stage (one can only presume technical malfunctions with the set) and then it was into the camp covers section of the show with the ever wonderful Always On My Mind followed by a somewhat muted Where The Streets Have No Name.

Then, as has become the custom these days, we were treated to the acoustic portion of the evening, this time with Home and Dry getting the honours. Unlike the Tower Of London gigs however, this was the only acoustic song of the night and then, probably because the BBC had sued the song in the Football coverage, we got Numb, which was well received.

Dreaming Of The Queen was another well received album track before the place came unglued for West End Girls. The party atmosphere continued for The Sodom And Gomorrah Show (as the boys playfully brought a real live drummer on the stage) and Opportunities, before the show ended with Integral.

Of course there was just enough time for the encore, ushered in with the David Morales mix of So Hard (great tune), which took in It's A Sin and, of course, Go West.

Whilst never threatening to live up to the pagentry of Performance, this was still one hell of a show. The set was understated, but functional and the boys themselves appeared to be having a great time. Neil even stated the crowd was superb. Chris even managed to crack a couple of smiles, and wave at me. Sure, it's not Heidi at the Apolo, but its good enough for me.

Few shows will see 20 years of classic pop hits crammed into them, and add in some bonuses for the more hard-core fan and you have, quite simply, a triumph. The Pet Shop Boys live shows have often been labelled as show over substance, but this concert proved that the Boys have substance to burn. You may think I'm biased but if there's been a consistenly better pop act of the past 20 years, I'd like to see them. Once again, this was a majestic triumph.