Arquati reviews Prefab Sprout at London Hammersmith - 22 October
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
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
Nobody could have claimed to be short-changed during the two hours of magic too
It was not only fans but music itself that must mourn the end of a triumphant
tour which lived up to all - all expectations-