The audience has been pretty restless for some time now. Roadies are being afforded huge cheers as they are repeatedly mistaken for members of the band, which perhaps tells you more about the eyesight of the Reading locals than anything else. Finally Andy Burrows takes to the stage and begins pounding on his kit.
Our eyes roll towards the ceiling fearing a drum solo may well be about to occur. Thankfully one last whip around the toms, and he settles down into the pattern for The Clash-inspired In The Morning. The rest of the band join him on stage, and at long last we’re off and running.
The impossibly catchy opener from Razorlight’s eponymous album sends the audience into spasms of delight and the band themselves seem to be in fine form. The first few lines are quite telling however, “The songs on the radio all sound the same, everybody just looks the same,” states Johnny Borrell, without a hint of irony.
A quick glance around the venue tells you just how close to the truth he is, and as the set progresses this line in particular takes on more relevance. Everyone here looks like they’ve stepped out fresh from Toni & Guy with their perfectly arranged hair and immaculate clothes. They all look exactly the same, totally inoffensive and uninspired, much like what starts to pour from the stage.
After the admittedly brilliant blast of In The Morning, Razorlight seem to take their feet off the pedal and coast their way to the finish line, which has the effect of making them sound much like all those songs on the radio they were talking about. Hold On sounds thin and lifeless, whilst Vice – which should pack a punch – sounds like it’s been heavily beaten and had it’s wallet nicked by some chavs back stage.
It’s not all bad though. Who Needs Love? is a particularly effective prance through Elvis Costello’s back catalogue. Meanwhile the melding of Soul Asylum and Bob Dylan that is Kirby’s House is probably the high point of the evening. However, the whole band appear to be going through the motions tonight, and the songs like Golden Touch, which should sound like claymore mines detonating are about as impressive as those shonky indoor fireworks you get from the corner shop.
Borrell whips his shirt off, and postures like a rock god, but the longer the gig continues, the more he begins to look like a false idol. This is a man who thrives on being the centre of everything (he apparently walked out of an interview because the interviewer had the audacity to spend some time talking to the other band members) but tonight he can barely hold your attention.
Yet somehow they get away with it, the audience are lapping it up in thrall to the band, even through a particularly tawdry version of America. To paraphrase that song in particular, there’s nothing on the stage that means that much to me.
Despite having little fire in their bellies, everyone here seems to be inexplicably taken by Razorlight’s performance. I can’t help but wonder how long it is before they notice that the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.