16th October 2013

Live: Johnny Borrell

The former Razorlight frontman continues his steady decline into obscurity.

Ruby Lounge

4th October


594 album sales in its first week, universal mockery over the unashamedly pretentious track names (the single released as a precursor to the album was called ‘Pan-European Supermodel Song (Oh Gina!)’) as well as a distinct lack of reviewers willing to give the album more than a lowly five out of ten, has highlighted the decline of Johnny Borrell, Razorlight’s indie superstar. We all remember Johnny Borrell, right? A man whose career was born and moulded completely from the early 2000s indie resurgence, someone who along with Pete Doherty and Carl Barat typified the hedonism of that musical era. Despite their arguably more destructive paths however, Borrell, rather than being lovingly pitied like Doherty was, seemed to be always treated with more disdain, often being depicted in the press as the rock star who led a glitzy celebrity lifestyle yet needed to come back down to earth. Furthermore, his overreaching self-assurance was viewed as the main reason for the decline of Razorlight.

I was one of a half full crowd to see the return of the indie Messiah at Ruby Lounge last Friday, where he was supported by his band ‘Zazou’. Songs such as ‘Cyrano Masochiste’, were not only ridiculous in name but strangely and tackily performed with the band ending up all whacking away on percussive instruments – a method which can be fruitful when used at the climax of a powerful song. Yet in the context of the jangly indie-ska which preceded the band’s attempts at percussive improvisation, the effect was a meek one and drew the feeling that although they were busting a gut, their songs lacked enough punch to penetrate a rather distracted audience. In fact, saying that the songs lacked punch is generous. The band’s gimmicky, elaborate costumes (all of them wore some sort of extravagant hat apart from Johnny) and their hyperactive stage presence, failed to mask that the quality of the song writing is truly dreadful.

Having played to 200,000 people at Live8 in London in 2005, here Johnny Borrell was; 150 people or so witnessing the painful decline of one of our generation’s most controversial rock stars.


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