EDitorial ± 23-Apr-2012

Graham Coxon, Cambridge

One day Martin Scorcese may make a four hour film about Graham Coxon. After all, Marty did that epic about George Harrison, didn't he? Despite his contributions to the Fab Four, poor old George always found himself just to the left of the limelight that was thrust upon Lennon & McCartney. They were the front men who wrote the songs and sang the songs.

Now consider Graham Coxon whose left foot can be glimpsed in the shadows thrown by the spotlight that follows Damon Albarn's every step. Damon's the front man who writes the songs and sings the songs. Not content with Blur, our Damon goes on to form Gorillaz -- huge -- then The Good, The Bad And The Queen -- less so -- before becoming hooked on world music, writing an opera, etc. It's a litany of successful side projects.

Graham Coxon's side projects, by contrast, comprise a host of solo albums. He's probably got the best part of around 70 or 80 tracks to choose from tonight at the Cambridge Junction. On stage, his backing band includes Snake, a guitarist, Bubba, a big-haired drummer, and Brian, another guitarist. At least that's what I imagine their names to be. Plus he's fallen for the whole Human League vibe and employed a pair of girlies on keyboard and assorted percussion.

He starts well with some songs from Love Travels, though he almost seems keen to throw them away, get them over with, dispose of them quickly. Then we're into the new stuff from A&E and the going gets a little murkier and slightly proggy. Those snappy three minute affairs have transmogrified into six minute partitions of sound.

I'm not sure that he ever really wins over the crowd. Inter-track chatting is kept to a minimum of mumbles. Playing new material is never gonna be easy. Strikes me that our Graham is not the natural frontman. He'd look great just to the left of a charismatic singer, we know that. On his own, things become indulgent, unstructured, lacking focus.

He takes an age to come back onstage for the obligatory encore. Is he coming back at all? Finally, he's here to play what the crowd want to hear -- Freaking Out. Then he blows it by not stopping there. Perversely, he finishes with a slower MOR-type song, almost like Snowy White. I look around. I don't get it. Perhaps that's for the hardcore fans. But I'm nonplussed.

I dare say he'll be great when Blur play Hyde Park later this year. Tonight, not for me.