17th Feb, 2020

Supergrass' triumphant return whisks intimate venue back in time

Andy Morris 2nd Feb, 2020 Updated: 3rd Feb, 2020

Supergrass, Coventry Empire, Thursday January 30

“IT’S not easy being 43,” muses Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, a few songs into what he describes as the band’s first ‘proper’ gig in a decade. Nursing sore limbs from a first venture into a mosh-pit since long before then, many of tonight’s spectators can sympathise.

But venture they did, and with good reason. In preparation for a reunion tour – celebrating 25 years since their seminal debut album I Should Coco and the release of retrospective box set The Strange Ones – the band had unpredictably popped up at this intimate venue for a warm-up concert. The chance to see them up close – and, as it turned out, hear them through a fulfillingly crystal-clear PA – was rare indeed.

Excitement was elevated by a set list which provided little opportunity for a breather. Their biggest hit Alright, despite a near-ubiquitous presence on the radio in the quarter-century since its release (has it really been that long?) sounded as fresh and clean as the teeth referenced in the lyrics.

The crowd’s response grew more and more feverish as they dusted off and lovingly restored a series of classics from their 14 year pre-breakup career. Caught by the Fuzz, Lenny, Going Out, Sun Hits the Sky, Late in the Day, Pumping on your Stereo, Moving and Grace – and more besides – all received hero’s welcomes. If ever the suspicion arose that the band’s well of illustrious crowd-favourites was surely about to run dry, they soon dispelled it by pulling yet another ace from their sleeve.

The reunion onstage was matched off it, as strangers came together arm-in-arm like long-lost friends to engage in heartfelt mass singalongs and spontaneous bouts of moshing. Was the last 25 years a bad dream? Had the 90s returned? For just an hour and a half, it certainly felt that way.

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