Live Music + Gig Reviews

Nemo @ Manchester Roundhouse

15 October 2003

I met James Cook, singer and testosterone in Nemo, a lifetime ago, in my living room.

A focused, determined chap, true to his out of time talent, because I meet him again tonight in the kind of venue I swore off six years ago. As good as empty, an atmosphere of no atmosphere, the inevitable Australian bar staff, the terminally distracted in-house soundman with a face that says, “Whatever… I’ve got trouble at home…”

But… Nemo are great. They are still great. They are world class and you don’t know it, ‘cos you aren’t here and you haven’t heard ’em. They fizzle and crackle and smoulder and are effete and muscular. James is a cross between Che, Quentin Crisp and Johnny Boy from Mean Streets.

He is immediately authoritative on stage entrance, lassoing the random gaggle of headliners group girlfriends and lost souls, sucking them closer to the stage than should be comfortable in such a airless place.

The tunes – and they are tunes – are taut pop songs in the vein of the Human League at their pop peak, or the two perfect singles by Girls Aloud (Good Advice and Sound Of…) These songs are layered and textured; they arch like a cobra and kiss while biting.

The drummer is brilliant – loose limbed to an assortment of loops and compu-rhythms, impeccably of the beat rather than on or in it.

The bass player is beyond skin and bone, just tracksuit and fingers, the guitarist looks like Eric Clapton at an ice skating tournament and switches liquid gel-like between analogue synth and processed guitar squall.

And the whole thing works – Nemo are a group, a group with the kind of members who would each warrant their own individual fan clubs in Taiwan and Rhyl, and they are a chrome sunburst in a vacuum tonight.

They have a single out now called Piccadilly In Sepia, distributed by Universal. It’s number one everywhere in the cosmos except here and now. Buy it and make it so. Nemo have class and are classic with an album ready to go. Let it not be a lost classic.

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Nemo @ Manchester Roundhouse