Babybird, O2 Academy
FEW bands can get away with omitting their biggest hit from a show – then Stephen Jones has always made by his own rules.
A chart lifetime on from You’re Gorgeous and the maverick muso still seems to have a love/hate relationship with his global hit.
Then he’s since tendered so many more nuggets that squeezing the indie trinket in before curfew here proved impossible. Partly it might have been a casualty of banter that wouldn’t be lost at a stand-up night; who else would suggest the words Olly Murs sounds like a sexual complaint.
He sets the musical tone with 1998’s The Life, it’s stark lyrics matching a meaty sound from a band that retains two other original members.
“Hello Leicester,” japes Jones before the set crosses from There’s Something Going On era to current album The Pleasures Of Self Destruction.
Early years gems Goodnight and Cornershop sound softer and sweeter against edgier newer moments, or rocky single Can’t Love You Anymore.
Where once Jones would become a Bad Old Man and get mardy with hecklers he now responds wittily to some largely inane comments, only finding frustration in his trusty lyrics stand on losing his page.
Babybird may not enjoy the record sales or full houses they deserve, but their leader’s trademark gentle melodies and dark sentiments – cue the brilliant Failed Suicide Club – and fractured lullabies Together Again and Unlovable confirm Jones remains a canny blend of curmudgeon and softy. Wouldn’t have him any other way.