Betatone Distraction look rather pleased with themselves tonight, as well they might: for each stop of his tour, Mr Coxon has sought nominations for support acts and chosen his favourite, meaning their very presence comes with a quite clear-cut seal of approval. “I’ve been listening to him since I was a wee boy!” grins singer Ray Elma as the band gear up for closing number Process Replaces Content, its robust melodies lapped up by a vocal fan club.
In the trailer for his recently-released eighth album, Graham Coxon explains the appeal of live performance as he sees it. However short the set, it’s about having the opportunity “to go berserk, to get your ears blasted, to jump about, to kiss girls, to fall over, to get thrown out..." The Skinny refrains from all of the above (well, our ears ring a bit...), and in a relatively quiet midweek Garage, the majority of the room behaves likewise.
Yet despite a slightly plodding mid-section, the evening remains a hit. A+E contains some of his finest solo material, and from Advice (loud, abrasive, catchy as hell) through to Running for Your Life’s whirling guitar onslaught, it’s well-represented in the set. Scattered amidst are gnarled pop nuggets from elsewhere in his impressively large and varied discography: Freakin’ Out is an inevitable encore fixture, a grungy I Can’t Look at Your Skin prompts yelps, while Tripping Over douses the pace and demonstrates the delicacy beneath the decibels.