Gnarls Barkley, Bush Hall, Fri 13th

The following review appears in the latest edition of London’s premier music ‘zine, London Tour Dates ltd-27june.JPG

When I was at school odd couples peppered the playground like a rash, everyone remembers their own version of the über-cool dude with the happy-go-lucky sidekick. While happy boy was dressed like a scruff only too pleased to please, cool wore black and stood against the side of the PE block, fag in hand, rings on finger (skull of course) resolutely refusing to speak to anyone. Within a minutes of coming onstage it’s not hard to guess who plays who in Gnarls Barkley.

gnarls_barkley.jpgI’m not sure who the musical genuis behind this double-DJ collaboration is: DJ Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) or vocalist Cee-Lo Green (Thomas Calloway), but can there be any doubt who the west London audience is here to see? Calloway makes an unlikely sex-symbol: short, fat and bald, he looks like the bloke at the end of my road who puts woolly gloves on park railings. In the words of ABBA though, everyone listens when he starts to sing. “Blind Mary” from new album “The Odd Couple” and “Transformer” from “St Elsewhere” filling the fabulously intimate Bush Hall’s atmospherics to bursting (side note: well done to the venue for not packing us in like sardines; how unusual to be be a few rows from the front and still be able to go get a drink and shock! return to where you were without a fight).

Mr Calloway’s wide-grinned enthusiasm for his craft is a joy to behold. Often degenerating into onstage spasms reminiscent of his famous namesake of yore, Cab, he’s prone to let rip now and again. Personally though, I prefer it when the fuzz subsides and the big man simply emotes as on new song “Neighbours”. By the time smash hit “Crazy” got its airing the goodwill swilling aorund Bush Hall more than overshadowed Burton’s brooding grumpiness and once the backstage fruit was handed to the crowd the circle was complete: every female heart rendered into a marshmallow mush and all us blokes wishing he were Dad.

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