Just quite how the songwriting brilliance of John Powers hasn’t been saluted by nationwide municipal statues and first-class stamp covers remains a mystery to many. Although, perhaps not quite as mysterious as how that ‘Lisa Simpson giving oral sex‘ embarrassingly crap Olympic logo ever got endorsed! Powers’ canon of work through the years of The La’s and Cast stand as a testament to some of the most crafted, and yes, often seductively romantic, songs to come from a gentle English man firmly ensconced in the Pantheon of seminal Liverpool bards. With Fred Perry neck-buttoned jackets being de rigueur compulsory for all male between 25 and 40 and £18 T-shirts shifting fast there’s an adoring Brummie explosion when Powers short-fuse ignites the night with ‘Timebomb’. Its dreamy Enoesque piano intro segues into Scrapheap Challenge disgusting guitars and seductive sitars effects whilst a decidedly angry drum army kicks up a devil of a fuss. With admirable honesty Powers explains that he’s trying-out new material from the recent album ‘Troubled Time’, eight songs in fact, ‘Don’t worry though, there’ll be some stuff from the past.’ Bless. He looks out with smiling bewilderment at the rammed O2 crowd with all the curly-locked innocence of Ron Weasley getting his first Harry Potter casting (sorry).
For the die-hard acolytes the new material is of worthy perusal, particularly – ‘Tear It Apart’ seeped in Sigour Ros atmospherics and distilled-Scouse ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ guitars. ‘Like A Dream’ prompted the baffled bloke next to me to comment, ‘This is Country & Western!’ I agreed with the observation but not necessarily with his buttoned-up rain-coat. True enough, it was a tad puppies & kittenish and utterly enchanting for it. ‘Walk Away’, sets the punters’ hearts a glow with its spiritually anthemic charms and ‘Let It Be’ crescendo. Needless to say, the ‘classics’ are received with delirious abandon with the mosh-mad infectious encore ‘Alright’ being a serious contender for the National Anthem once the UK becomes a republic (after giving flaccid member of Parliament, Francis Maude a garage-band petrol enema, obviously). We should treasure John Powers, and no less the scorching tight Cast ensemble whose musicianship and harmonies (to quote a long ago choice NME snippet) ‘was like being mugged by angels.’ And tonight everyone went home hugged by the better side of their angels.
Setlist: Timebomb, Troubled Thoughts, Sky’s Got A Gaping Hole, Sandstorm, See That Girl, Not Afraid Of The World, Silver & Gold, Fine Time, Bow Down, Bad Waters, Tear It Apart, Live The Dream, Walk Away, Guiding Star, Free Me -encores- She Falls, Alright, History.
Copious thanks to both Martin & O2 desk-jockey, Adam.
Review – John Kennedy
Photos – Ian Dunn