Ian Brown

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Concert Review by Kris Griffiths

V2001, Chelmsford, UK – 19 August 2001

It was a difficult decision to be forced into making: Red Hot Chili Peppers or Ian Brown (or Toploader) to crown a long August weekend of torrential rain and dear beer. You could either have squeezed into the packed mob on the boggy main stage slopes and get soaked with drizzle whilst straining to catch a glimpse of Flea and a band that might as well be fleas from where you’re standing – or you could have watched Ian Brown in the comfort of a warm tent, with the added luxury of some dry grass to sit down on whilst waiting for the show to start. Yes, this was the wise man’s choice of venue for the festival finale. At least, that’s what everybody thought in their sozzled stupor…

No sooner have Grandaddy trudged off the stage in a Casio-filled crescendo the tent slowly begins to fill with boozy Brown fans. As the wait drags on, the tired throngs burst into a rousing football chant of “Ian Brown” to the tune of “Here we go, here we go, here we go…”, but all the beery loudness in the world can’t mask the fact that a bad decision has been made by all. King Monkey eventually makes his messianic entry on a small bike which he proceeds to ride awkwardly around the stage as his band take to their instruments. The ensuing batch of tunes leaves everyone a bit embarrassed by their excessive idolatry. Brown’s flat foghorn vocals once again struggle to give justice to his ‘Golden Greats’: MY STAR, CORPSES IN THEIR MOUTHS, LOVE LIKE A FOUNTAIN and GOLDEN GAZE all fail to elicit much of a response from the crowd. DOLPHINS WERE MONKEYS sounds good for about a minute but the patchy bouncing fades by the second verse.

In between every song throughout the entire set, Brown insists on doing the same stupid thing – bouncing from foot to foot and making a silly noise into his microphone which sounds like he’s whispering “chupa-chups” repeatedly. Good one, Ian. The only plus-point of the set arrives with an impressive unveiling of the new single, F.E.A.R, which sets a few heads rocking in approval. However towards the end Brown inexplicably decides to perform MY STAR again before going on another little bicycle jaunt. By then we’ve all had enough. “We might as well have watched Toploader”, sighs a pissed-off punter on the weary exodus from the tent. “At least that permed poof can sing”, replies his mate.