The Durutti Column, Manchester University

Manchester University

The Durutti Column were the first signings to Factory Records before the label went all Joy Division-shaped. Frontman Vini Reilly co-wrote Morrissey's first solo hit and was then discarded. He made a typically hapless, and hilarious, appearance in the 24 Hour Party People film, playing a gig without an audience. Reilly's almost comical low profile is the combination of years of illness and the unstinting refusal to believe continual proclamations, most recently from the Chili Peppers' John Frusciante, that he is a genius. "I just bumble onstage and mumble incoherently," he says, one way of introducing a rare evening with one of British pop's true virtuosos.

Since 1978, the Durutti Column have been based around Reilly's pairing with jazz drummer Bruce Mitchell and the guitarist's unique, spectral style, pairing fragility and beauty. People who would presumably pay to hear the tune-ups are more than rewarded with a career journey that takes in three cuts from 1981's classic LC album and everything from flanged guitar dance to quasi-heavy metal.

The recent Someone Else's Party album - inspired by the death of Reilly's mother - captures the duo again on brilliantly melancholy form, but otherwise this is a lighter Durutti. Mitchell's scurrying brushwork receives shouts of "Go arrn, Brucey!" while Reilly perfects years of self-mockery with a deadpan: "This is a really rocking number."

The mood alters for four astonishing minutes. Reilly originally penned The Missing Boy following the suicide of his friend, Joy Division's Ian Curtis, but the tale of fragile souls amid pop's "machinery" is powerfully delivered and increasingly appropriate. As Reilly untypically spits the line "I don't believe in stardom", its suddenly glaringly obvious why one of pop's most quietly influential talents is content on its fringes.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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