Britpop was a musical and cultural phenomenon that, for all the bad haircuts and Gene albums that occurred as a result, there were some truly great records produced that will stand the test of time… Compared to the glitter, smack and sadism of Suede and Pulp, Supergrass provided an interesting provincial bright eyed contrast to such foppish posing. Rural Oxfordshire certainly made it’s mark on the band, with their patented mix of (sub)urban tales of mishaps and adventures and pastoral acid hazed psychadelia, Supergrass hit on a winning mix that lasted them for their 17 year career. Tonight’s gig was a fascinating backwards glance over the development of one of Britain’s greatest bands.
The show, structured with the band playing selected tracks from each of their 6 studio albums with each section introduced by a video montage relating to the specific record, is packed to the rafters. Opening with ‘Diamond Hoo Ha Man’ from 2008’s Diamond Hoo Ha, singer and guitarist Gaz Coombs comes across as an east midlands Jack White, all fuzzed out blues riffs and lyrical references to “motels”, the album is the most Americana of their output. Moving back (chronologically speaking) to 2005’s Road To Rouen, album highlight ‘Fin’ sounds swoony and gorgeous and ‘St Petersburg’ is all acoustic dexterity and road weary backroom boogie piano. Things really start picking up when the band launch into one of their many feel good hits of the summer ‘Grace’. Other tunes from 2002’s Life On Other Planets include glam stomping ‘Rush Hour Soul’ and synth led ‘Brecon Beacons’. It’s the 1999 released self titled album section that really gets the mosh pit going, almost the whole of the pit are jumping to ‘Moving’, ‘Mary’ and ‘Pumping On Your Stereo’. Emotions run high as the band return from their mini interlude for the big ones from 1997’s In It For The Money, the appropriateness of the barefaced cynicism of the lead track can only be lost on the very most naïve of gig goer, given the vast sums of money involved in a fair well tour of this nature. Still, ‘Richard IIIrd’ sounds like a bomb going off, bass player Mick Quinn really lets lose with some killer lines and drummer Danny Goffey flails at his kit like Animal on steroids. Set highlight and my personal all time favourite ‘Grass choon ‘Sun Hits The Sky’ is mega, Gaz’s bro Rob nails the synth solo and I’m somewhat distracted by the crowd surfing going on all over the place. It seems that a large portion of the crowd are more than happy to regress 10 years and live it up like a bunch of indie hoodlums in a youth centre in Wheatley.
As the band leave the stage and ready themselves for one last outing for the hits from their 1995 debut and all time great classic end of century list bothering teenage masterpiece I Should Coco, there’s a tremendous energy in the air, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife, for want of a better cliché. Clash aping, Bowie filching hits ‘She’s So Loose’, ‘Mansize Rooster’, ‘Strange Ones’ and ‘Lenny’ are bashed out at a million miles an hour and, when it comes to the final encores, it’s clear that the band, especially Gaz, are overwhelmed. Introducing ‘Caught By The Fuzz’, the final finale swan song and “first song we ever wrote” he’s visibly shaking and emotional. He even gets the words wrong! This does nothing to put a damper on the epic, last party on earth vibe and the band leave the UK stage for good, heading to Paris the night after for one final soiree.
A fittingly chaotic, energised bookend to a career of being one of the top indie guitar pop bands of recent times.