Review: Razorlight

Stage: Reading, Friday, 10pm. Johnny Borrell fails to be bottled off stage.

Stage: Main stage, Reading

Time: Friday, 10pm

Dress code: Oddly bland grey jumper (to be removed halfway through set).

In summary: Initial disappointment that the rumours the band will be bottled off stage fail to come true turns to awkward embarrassment when you discover you enjoy at least 73% of their songs, replaced by a grim realisation that you were right about them all along when Johnny Borrell strips off his top and starts treating us to what appears to be stream-of-consciousness beat poetry, and the last song goes on for seven hours.

Better than: Let's face it, Razorlight are the band everyone loves to hate. And they write good pop songs. Nothing merits Johnny Borrell's Christ-like ego (particularly not his terrible lyrics, of which we're reminded tonight when he sings "I can't stop this feeling I've got; I know what I am and I know what I'm not"), but it is the tunnel-visioned infallibility of his self-belief that has been the making of Razorlight. They're such an average band in every other way that a shy and retiring lead singer wouldn't have got them to a second album, let alone headlining status.

Worse than: The anticipation that the crowd would turn on the band was particularly high among the flock of punters who made a swift exit after Kings of Leon finished their set to ensure they didn't catch a note of Razorlight. Earlier in the day, the band were enthusiastically booed by the crowd when their name was announced by the compere as part of the forthcoming lineup. But it turns out some of the people who actually buy Razorlight records also go to festivals, and they enjoy themselves tonight mightily. Which just isn't as fun as watching Borrell dodge a barrage of piss-filled paper cups.

Highlight: When the band's ripoff of Patti Smith's Gloria merges into a rip off of The Doors' Break On Through during the seemingly endless breakdown of In the City.

Talking point: The totally non-ironic 15-foot Razorlight sign that flashes above the band's heads. Brilliant.

What they'll be up to this time next year: Adpoting small third-world children? Scientology? The possibilities are endless for this frontman. As for the rest of the band, perhaps they will finally have fled under the weight of Borrell's ego.

Mark out of 10: 6


Rosie Swash

The GuardianTramp

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