Wednesday, 27 January 2010

620 MEW, Carina Round, Ambersphere, London University Of London Union, Tuesday 2 December 2003

What with roadworks and speed traps on the M4, it now takes something very special indeed to entice us up to London on a school night. The prospect of, amazingly, Mew's first ever UK headline date was, however, very special. So Rachel and I joined a delegation oop the Smoke, parking just round the corner from ULU after a remarkably easy drive in and search for parking spots. Got in, therefore, just as the openers were tuning up. Ambersphere, for such they were, peddled a nice line in sub-Byrds/Big Star influenced harmonic countrified pop. Shame the Thrills beat them to it!

Watched Carling Cup footy in the bar before Carina Round took the stage, already running late. Her opener started with the slow desolation of a Cowboy Junkies track, and developed into a Jeff Buckley-esque warbling noisefest. I should have liked it, but found it jarring rather than intriguing, and retreated to the bar, from whence she sounded better, also recalling early PJ Harvey.

By Mew-time, the place was quite full with devotees, including a fair sprinkling of Scandinavians. Found an excellent viewing slot stage left, near the front, behind lots of short people, for Mew's fashionably late entrance at 10. From the opening bars of "Am I Wry? No" it was evident that they were "on it", and thereafter were nothing less than awesome, awe-inspiring and brilliant throughout.

Mew are unlucky that their emergence coincided with a year I finally saw David Bowie, otherwise they'd be No.1 live act, no question, to go with their top single and album awards for this year. This is the 3rd time I've seen them and each time has been radically different; the OK Go support slot all about power and impact, the 93 Ft. East gig a triumph of stark, simple beauty, and this one, which reeked of consummate professionalism and perfection from a band clearly aware that they are on the up... and up! The sound was possibly better than I've ever heard it at the occasionally muddy sounding ULU, and the boys did it full justice, Jonas' choirboy innocent vocals never once missing a note.

A trio of unfamiliar numbers followed the angelic "Wry" and plangent "156", each underlining the fact that Mew are no one-shot wonders, then the haunting, broodingly magnificent "She Came Home For Christmas" solicited a deserved lengthy ovation. "She Spider", jagged, menacing and dynamic, was a late highlight, before the wistful charm of "Snow Brigade" abruptly ended a 45 minute set which seemed seconds long.

Back on for "Comforting Sounds",a perfect end to a set brimming with melancholy, menace, beauty and power. The ovation at the end said it all; they and we knew that they'd delivered, in the biggest way possible.

Afterwards, emotions were mixed; pure unrivalled elation at the incredible gig we'd seen tonight was tempered with the realisation that we can't hold Mew back. They're all over Radio 1 and MTV2 like a rash, and soon they'll be headlining stadia, blowing away the Coldplays of this world and showing them up as the pretenders to the throne of elegiac, haunting world domination that Mew rightly deserve. Sure, they deserve it, but dammit, we saw them first! They're OURS!

I hope that never changes.

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