Supergrass / 22-20s - Manchester Academy 1 - 28.4.04

There's no doubt that the 22-20s have an authentic blues swagger whereas the likes of the White Stripes and Jet walk a thin line between playing a tribute to the greats and ripping the heart and soul out of the genre and replacing it with something more marketable. In fact the 22-20s closest cousins are Liverpool's The Basement who drew on the same influences such as Skip James and Leadbelly. Maybe it's the fact we only saw them a month ago on the Britpack tour or maybe its the fact that their songs are so rigidly set in stone, but it felt like the 22-20s were in autopilot mode. All the regulatory moves are there, the set pieces are in place, but there's nothing that elevates the band from the last time we saw them or indeed from the mini-album "05/03". As before "Devil In Me" and "I'm The One" stand out as the bands strongest tracks, but mid-set when the guys slow it down there's little you can do but look at your watch and wish your life away. The 22-20s have got the potential to be a mind-blowing band, but for the time being they simply need to take time out and work on some new songs.

Pic: 22-20s in action

A lack of songs is the last thing you could accuse Supergrass of, but for the first half of tonights show it genuinely felt like it. After a strong start with "In It For The Money" and "Richard III", the latter of which the lyrics of Electric 6's "Gay Bar" fit perfectly over main riff, the band went into free fall mode dipping into a selection of obscure album tracks which by the look on most of the audiences faces it was a clear cut case of WTF. Strangely enough it took most bands Achilles heal to pull it back for the Grass, an 3 track acoustic set including early single "Caught By The Fuzz" and "Late In The Day" was the last thing you'd expect from the band but from that moment the energy level didn't drop or dip and the band seemed energized so much that you'd believe it was 2 different bands on stage. The new single "Kiss Of Life", while not as strong as previous efforts, shows a departure for the band and is an mix of 70s blackalicious funk taken through to the dance sounds of bands like The Rapture or Radio 4. After that though it was all about the hits, "Pumping On The Stereo", "Save Your Money For The Children" and Movin" sat side-by-side old classics such as "Time" and "Alright". When the band left the stage to "Sun Hits The Sky" they'd pulled it back from the brink and we saw exactly what we loved about the band back in the day when they played the Hop and Grape with the Bluetones all those years ago.

The Greatest Hits tour always leaves a dirty taste in the mouth. We came to the gig with an open mind and felt Supergrass weren't going to go the way of Suede or many of the other Britpop bands. By the end of the show things were none the less clear with the band taking us from disappointment to elated highs throughout.

Alex McCann
Photo's by Karen McBride -


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