THU: 25º/14º FRI: 23º/16º
Graham Coxon pleases punk crowd at Lille Vega
"This is a song about getting beaten up," quips Graham Coxon from the Lille Vega stage. "That doesn’t happen here, though (meaning Denmark). This is a nice place." The former Blur guitarist’s schoolboy song precursor isn’t without its irony. He’s right – the audience in the incandescent velvet of the Vega hall are a world away from fist fights, but the new set of songs he’s about to break in to could happily soundtrack any roguish movement redolent of punk and all its associated mass brawls.
It’s clear from tonight’s show that the man heralded by the likes of his old foe Noel Gallagher and Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood as one of the best guitarists of his generation is ill-prepared to let his involvement in music dwindle and die on its arse. April’s A+E, Coxon’s eighth studio album, in a departure from previous experimental and pop-rock outings, is tight, raw and sung with an early-Blur snarl. Like the punk Coxon grew up on was to his languorous concept album, this latest musical chapter represents a self-confessed ‘reaction’ statement. Out with the experimental and in with the hooks, and it’s the sound of a composer and performer who seems as relevant and vital now as he was as a fresh-faced art schooler.
The perennial rock ‘n’ roll postgraduate Graham Coxon and his band appear decked out in striped shirts, the front man himself with scruffy hair and an air of dishevelled genius. They launch immediately into tracks from A+E. The Mike Skinner confrontation of Advice, the Tarantino pomp of Seven Naked Valleys and the student night floor-filling What’ll it Take all fizz vocally as if cut from Clash B-sides. Coxon then interludes with City Hall, a dystopian crawler that could make a Sonic Youth mosh pit weak at the knees - and a reminder he’s still got the eye for the strange.
The set also includes live favourites such as Standing on My Own Again and No Good Time, but the older hits sit better with an audience who, though keen, gets a bit restless with some of Coxon’s newer material. Still, though not the sweaty student scenesters this tour might draw elsewhere, those gathered tonight are pleased and proud that their man is still plying his artistic trade – and doing so modestly, enjoyably and with a Copenhagen-compatible geek chic look to boot.
Still, what’s really striking is that Coxon, after so many successful years in the business, can sound as razor sharp and dead-on as he does tonight. Effortlessly changing his tone, his new music and mindset nod to 70s punk with playful incitement and guitar power play, and the gig’s a triumph. That you can imagine a mass brawl in Lille Vega is just another testament to how convincingly Coxon has mixed up his music.