Live Music + Gig Reviews

Cornershop @ Scala, London

13 February 2002



It might have been five years ago that Britain went Cornershop mad, when Brimful Of Asha stormed up the charts as a Fatboy Slim remix and the Mercury Music Prize looked to be within the band’s grasp, but clearly a lot can happen in five years.

Front man Tjinder Singh has been off recording as Clinton, while Oasis‘ former bassist, Paul McGuigan, has now joined the band. One gets the feeling that Noel Gallagher would like to play guitar for Tjinder too – and at this one-off Scala showcase we were to discover how much like Oasis the formerly eclectic Cornershop sound now.

A seemingly endless loop of instrumental noise, presumably meant to warm the audience up in anticipation of the arrival of Singh and Ben Ayers, lasted too long by about 100 years. We were bored by the time the twosome finally deigned to appear and, when Singh, resplendent in a suit and peering backstage almost constantly, finally decided to sing, a badly balanced grunting was all that could be heard.

Sound men (for once) couldn’t really be blamed, as the entirely lifeless Singh continued to ignore the audience as the band meandered interminably through lacklustre sub-Oasis dirge, made up mostly of new material. An initially enthusiastic audience become more muted as the short set (just 50 minutes) passed by. Even Brimful Of Asha and Sleep On The Left Side lacked any kind of pizzazz, passion or meaning. Singh looked bored, tired and sullen at the front of the stage as he strummed guitars of varying types to no particular effect. Lively contributions from a sitarist and percussionist aside, this was mediocre stuff.

New single Lessons Learned From Rocky I To Rocky III followed and sounded better than much of the rest of the set – but all things are relative. Even by the end of the set Singh was playing guitar with his back to the audience and resolutely refusing to engage with those who’d paid money to see him.

Tonight, Cornershop were a disappointment. On this evidence, their live set does not reflect their recorded sound, which works rather better. A pity – the ingredients are in place, but somehow it just doesn’t involve.

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