Cornershop - Manchester Hop & Grape - 22.4.02

If any band prove the old adage that too many cooks can spoil the broth its Cornershop. Tjinder Singh uses every single music ingredient at his disposal and delivers fine cuisine in the space of a bumper edition of Can't Cook, Won't Cook. Out on the road to promote the perfect compilation album that isn't really a compilation album with "Handcream For A Generation" - an album that takes us from polished funk through classic rock and filtered disco, mixed with some reggae and psychedelic space rock. Its somewhat appropriate that they kick things off with the starter of "Heavy Soup", a light dish with a bed of pre-recorded beats and brass laid over a one by one precession of the finest bass, sitar, guitar and added beats courtesy of the back beat.

On the possible next single "Staging The Plaguing Of The Raised Platform" they follow the recent obsession with tweenage pop and subvert it with the lyric "making the dope dope". Its also at this point when its clicks that the bands live guitarist used to be in under-rated Creation Records band Heavy Stereo who's biggest claim to fame is probably the fact that Gem (Oasis) used to their lead singer. If only they'd go and do the decent thing of reforming (if only for an Oasis support slot) so we can hear the likes "Sleepfreak", "Pleasure Dip" and "Mouse In A Hole" again. But I digress, back to Cornershop who pull out all the stops with Guigsy for a set pleaser of "Lessons Learned From Rocky I to Rocky III".

 In the past Cornershop have been accused of dreary live shows and while we'd have loved to see the likes of "Motion The 11" or "Slip The Drummer One" instead of a full version of the 14 minute "Spectral Mornings", the only point where you slip your old sleeve up and count the seconds away, its a joyous celebration of one of Britain's most challenging bands. It may still be pop music with an infectious hook, but there are few bands who can slip into musical genre's with ease and still appear that its not a cynical marketing ploy to gain a handful of fans. For Joe Public they may simply be remembered for the Norman Cook remix of "Brimful Of Asha", of which the original album version is played tonight, but in Europe and the US they are known for purely for the simply fact that they release some of the most infectious and adventurous albums of the 90s and now into the noughties. On the basis of tonight, its looks like Cornershop will also be remembered as being a fantastic live celebration of that music.

Alex McCann

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