Art Brut at the Boileroom, Guildford, 3 March 2019

Art Brut returned to Guildford for the first time in 15 years – and for their first ever show at the Boileroom – to promote new album ‘Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out’.

As the band launched into the classics ‘Formed a Band’ and ‘My Little Brother’ to open the set, Eddie Argos updated the lyrics and observed how his little brother is now 38 and a home owner – and how it’s all about YouTube playlists rather than tapes of ‘A-sides and B-sides’ nowadays. Eddie also took time out to share his mother’s views on ‘a Jools Holland’ and how she likes to remind him that ‘noisy, talky indie’ is back before comparing the current batch to Art Brut: shame are ‘Art Brut if they stayed at art school’; Idles ‘Art Brut with a social conscience’; and Sleaford Mods… Well, they might call Eddie ‘middle class’ if he dare says anything.

The new Art Brut line-up then tore through choice cuts from the latest album – ‘Hospital’s call-and-response lyrics working especially well in the live setting and the knowing ‘Kultfigur’ sounding particularly effusive. An audience member asked for ‘Direct Hit’ and the band played it with aplomb before finishing the set with the always-wonderful ‘Emily Kane’ – a song about pining for a lost love that is now a celebration of the power of rock and roll after Emily heard it and struck up a friendship with Eddie once again – and a frantic version of ‘Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out’.

Art Brut decided to crouch down while the audience whooped for a fake encore amidst assurances that ‘Art Brut don’t play ‘Modern Art’ anymore’. ‘Hooray!’, ‘Bad Weekend’ and traditional closer ‘Post Soothing Out’ followed before a ‘proper’ encore brought the realisation that Eddie was having us on all along. ‘Modern Art’ was played, complete with now-traditional ramblings about Doctor Who while the crowd sits down and gets ready to ‘run at it’… It’s a joyous and communal experience that remains just as fun as when the band first burst onto the scene all those years ago.

Although they’re no longer ‘talking to the kids’ (Eddie mused how it’s now ‘more like people in their mid- to late-30s’), an Art Brut live show is still very much Top of the Pops. Indeed, their next UK show is a TOTP-themed show with a stellar line-up – Top of the Alcopops!

 

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