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Rollmo! No. 05

Richard Arquati reviews Prefab Sprout at London Hammersmith - 22 October

Rollmo! # 05Reasonable grounds for divorce

For a self confessed despiser of playing live, one couldn't help noticing a triumphant smile on the face of Paddy McAloon as he took the stage at the end of the band's sell-out Comeback tour.
Considering the wealth of quality material he could of chosen from start the proceedings it was down to the lamentable dirge "Michael" that got proceedings off to a less than euphoric start.
The band's choice of songs concentrated on "Steve McQueen" and the more recent "Jordan: The Comeback", with a smattering of "Swoon" and "From Langley Park To Memphis", omitting any numbers from the bastard son that was titled "Protest Songs".
The result was a puchy, provocative and beautifully gelled anthology that marked the musical evolution of the band, and Paddy's former wild errantic manner with a now more soulful and considered approach.
The sometimes melancholic tempo was broken with the Brazilian dance "Carnival 2000", "Looking for Atlantis" and "Faron Young", which saw Paddy play the guitar hero.
These numbers were played in direct opposition to the breathless "Nightingales" and heart rending "When Love Breaks Down", numbers so easy to fall in love with, judges should accept them as reasonable grounds for divorce.
Startling omissions from the set were "Scarlet Nights" and "The Ice Maiden", songs that contain enough force, they could have turned Hammersmith Odeon into an open air venue.
The biggest cheer was reserved for when Paddy uttered the words "Cruel is the gospel that sets us all free, and takes you away from me." This number reserved for the encore marked the moment for one fan to present backing singer Wendy Smith with a bunch of flowers, unceremoniously flung on stage, after failing to lure her from in front of her microphone stand.
The end of the second encore heralded "Doo Wop in Harlem" - a song that took the guise of a hymn which ended when the High Priest left with a wave - accompanied by Wendy.
Nobody could have claimed to be short-changed during the two hours of magic too rarely performed.
It was not only fans but music itself that must mourn the end of a triumphant tour which lived up to all - all expectations-
Richard Arquati