Keith TOTP and his Minor International Indie Celebrity Allstar Backing Band
Captains Rest, Glasgow 14 October, 2011.
We always knew it would happen: pop has eaten itself. Worse, it has semi-revived, crawled half-dead from its own anus, and is now making a potload of cash while belching its revolting green breath into our faces.
The end is nigh! HMS Pop is being captained by fools. The karaoke singers have taken over the asylum. Who can save us from Adele and her clones of drones?
Thankfully, Keith Top of the Pops is here (Glasgow, in tonight’s case) to save the world from its own dross. With as much scythe-like irony as the likes of Loudon Wainwright III and with a funny bone as glorious as the obviously influential Half Man Half Biscuit, this amiable London face has messages for us all.
From ‘I Hate Your Band’, a heartfelt and hilarious broadside against toxic indie landfill to ‘Two Of The Beatles Are Dead’, Keith’s cheery epitaph to George and John (and secretly Stuart Sutcliffe and the ‘original’ Paul); this is sharp-shooting stuff throughout. As the band name suggests, his rolling stock of stagemates features any number of vaguely recognisable faces from the present and past – and in tonight’s case that is a couple of 1990s and more than a few Blood Arms (including drummer Zach Amos on upside down guitar). They all follow Keith’s chord cheatsheets and occasional helpful introductions: “This song is the Em B C D song”, for instance, while singing along to unforgettable choruses like ‘My favourite albums are the blue one and the red/Two of the Beatles Are Dead’.
Keith himself, a bit of a growler like a skinny Black Francis, saves his raspy venom for the long list of despised bands at the end. Razorlight, The Kooks, The View, The Enemy and, just for tonight, some local flavour like Glasvegas and The Fratellis.
But there’s a more serious, though no less warm and homely side to Keith, as evidenced by material like. ‘Call Me’. This gentle giant, his own ‘Lean On Me (I Won’t Fall Over)’ in a way, has to be one of the brightest ‘me and you against the world’ songs of this otherwise lank decade. Oh yeah. And there’s songs about masturbation.
The X-Factor might well be on telly tomorrow and the next week, and the next… but all is not lost. We need crafty singer-songwriter/lead singers like Keith Top of the Pops more than ever. And, phew what a relief: here he is.