Neil Finn - Manchester Apollo - 11.5.01

It could have been oh so dreary and yet it turned out to be one of the finest gigs this year. How much of this was down to Neil Finn is debatable, but when there is a musical marriage of two of the greatest ever bands on stage you can't help but stand in awe. Following on from the legendary New Zealand show it was Manchester's chance to see Neil Finn, Johnny Marr and Ed and Phil from Radiohead - its the sort of collective that Jools Holland would be left screaming "Please let me join in at" in that ever so smug way he does. Yet somehow you get the feeling that much of tonight's crowd are here simply to see Neil Finn. The gigs sold out within a matter of weeks long before this new found musical credibility and the sheer manic clapping for his arrival reaches fever pitch.

Of course Johnny Marr gets a standing ovation when he joins in on the harmonica for "4 Seasons In One Day", but you're simply amazed when he stays on stage for the next hour and a half. If anything though its the versions of "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" and "How Soon Is Now?" that really shine out as diamonds amongst a collection of real gems. Finn though no Morrissey is an adequate replacement and taking into consideration that the bequiffed one hasn't played this town for a decade it would be foolish of us to complain. With both Morrissey and Marr dipping back into that old Smith catalogue it wouldn't be that mush of a surprise if they joined up again in the near future, but somehow a full Smiths reunion with Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke seems unlikely.

If Marr was hard to avoid then Ed O'Brien and Phil Sellway prefer to hide in the shadows. If anything though it just serves as a reminder to when Radiohead wrote great tunes like "Creep" or "High & Dry" instead of this "Kid A" bollocks. While Thom Yorke may be a little alien boy and the rest of the band mis-understood misfits tonight it seems strange that they dance around like Michael Stipe - all cool, ironic swinging the pants Trevor and Simon style - but dancing and smiling all the same!!!!

Without a shadow of a doubt this will go down as one of gigs of the year and will remain in Manchester's history as up there with the Sex Pistols at The Free Trade Hall and Madonna at the Hacienda. Neil Finn, Johnny Marr, Ed O'Brien and Phil Sellway we salute you all. And last but not least praise must also go out to the fantastic multi-instrumentalist Lisa Germano who adds a little sparkle to any stage.

Alex McCann