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Phoenix – The Arches, Glasgow

Phoenix onstageAh, the French. Has there ever been a nationality so derided and admired at the same time? From the jokes about surrender and garlic to amusing ‘comedy’ accents, they are lampooned in every corner of the globe. However, secretly, we all aspire to that level of almost-terminal coolness that only they can affect. Even the term ‘Gallic cool’ seems loaded with an insouciance that may as well come from Heaven itself if you are from Hull. Yes, us Brits can mock, but we all wish we were from a happening suburb of Paris.

Which Phoenix are. And they seem to arrive, as urbane and stylish as one would imagine, straight from the pages of Paris Match circa 1984. For their music comes from a place where it is forever the eighties, where people clutch ghettoblasters and wear day-glo Nike tracksuits and the national anthem is ‘Together in Electric Dreams.’ Come to think of it, that sounds like Urban Outfitters.

They make pop music, the clever, bright pop music that people used to. Opener ‘Lisztomania’ sets the template – intricate guitars snake along behind banks of massed synths to a deceptively simple tune. ‘Long Distance Call’ sends the room into a frenzy. The venue is packed, the crowd seemingly sharing surprise that other people love this band too. They have gone under the radar a bit, a hipsters indulgence, like fine chocolates or expensive wine.

A light show which seems to have been inspired by ‘Tron’ is simple but absolutely brilliant, while the songs keep flying by, almost metronomically perfect, multi-coloured loveliness abounds throughout the room. Everything seems to be perfectly aligned, fused together effortlessly.

The thump of ‘Armistice’ keeps the tempo flying, though it rarely threatens to drop. The sublime ‘Girlfriend’ is a baked cheesecake of a pop song, just so wonderful and perfect you want more and more. Ending with ‘1901’, which the BBC seem to have decided is this years ‘Hopipolla’, it’s been a 90 minute set that seemed to last fifteen. An absolutely blinding show from one of the best bands out there at the moment.


One Response

  1. Can I also just say to the young lady with the Crsytal tipps hairdo – don’t stand in front of me again at a gig, and also, get your hair cut, you look like Anita Dobson in 1985. There’s one for the kids.

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