Review by Simon Pinion
IT WAS the final night of a month long nationwide tour. Would that normally be a good or a bad thing? A special effort for the last night? Or glad to get it over with?
On this occasion, Ian Brown's vocals might have been glad to get it over with, but the man himself definitely wasn't. Brown enjoyed every second of the second sold out night at London's Shepherds Bush Empire (March 11, 2002).
After a storming set from the Electric
Soft Parade, it made you wonder if Brown would be able to fulfil his headline
slot. The enthusiasm that ESP had shown surely couldn't be passed by this
Although Brown may be nearly double the age of ESP, his excitedness and enjoyment of the evening was obvious. I've seen him five times before (two of them with the Roses) and I've never seen him so pleased to be there.
His set would see him take in all three of his solo albums, obviously mainly concentrating on his latest album, 'Music of the Spheres'. Opening on his latest single 'Whispers', the crowd were instantly enthralled by Brown's on-stage presence.
As the set went on, it made you remember just how many solo hits he has already had. Corpses , Dolphins Were Monkeys, My Star, Love like a Fountain and F.E.A.R were particular highlights.
Love like a Fountain, perhaps the closest Brown has come to a dance record, saw a massive response from those at the front. At the end of the song, for only a few seconds, Brown and the lead guitarist strayed the record into the riff and vocals of the Roses' classic - Fool's Gold. This lifted the crowd, and momentarily transported everyone one back to the Baggy era.
The encore included 'F.E.A.R.' and 'My Star' which ended the night. Brown just didn't want to leave the stage for 'My Star', and eventually stayed on the stage on his own, singing the chorus over and over again, with the crowd clapping along.
The only bad thing that can be said about this gig was that Brown's vocals weren't the best. Particularly on 'Shadow of a Saint' which involves a lot of Brown singing with out much instrumental back up. However, his overall performance easily overtook this one down side.