IN&OUTTONIGHT REVIEWS Claw inspiring: Bono laps up the attention of 88,000 people at Wembley WERE older than Wembley Stadium, noted Bono, sizing up the refurbished footie arena, but were still going up! It made you wonder: how could U2 -- rocks answer to Barcelona -- be promoted any higher? The Irish megastars have taken some flak for this years album No Line On The Horizon, but such trifles have never worried their only real competition in the stadium league, the Rolling Stones, whose new records routinely sell less than The Rumble Strips. U2 are definitely still top dog, and their stock-in- trade is pushing the envelope of outdoor rockage. This time, crowds were introduced to The Claw, a vast, circular construction that gripped the stage from above like a giant cherry picker, with all the lights and PA system tucked inside it. The band were accordingly visible from (almost) every seat around it. A record- breaking 88,000 people gawped on as U2 ripped through four of their latest tunes. If the sound was soupy, U2 filled the place not with music, but themselves -- 100 times larger than life, even before magnified on the vast screens. Something special could happen here tonight, said Bono. The crowd duly roared the first verse of I Still Havent Found What Im Looking For for him -- an incredible moment. Thereafter, though, by their own stratospheric standards, the show never quite took off. The triumph, however, came during the encores With Or Without You, when a single mirrorball turned Wembley into a poky little nightspot. Until someone invents something bigger than stadiums, U2 will keep eating these places for breakfast. 22 Monday, 17 August 2009 London Lite THIS is an odd one. From Brian Higginss Xenomania, the songwriting maestros who brought you all the best Girls Aloud tunes, heres, er, an earnest bunch of rock-soul bores. Huh? Im all for people branching out but when you can write pop as marvellous as GAs Biology why bother inventing Reefs younger, less interesting brothers? So, we have a lot of faux soul from Alex Vargas and a deluge of lyrical clichs: Late at night I come around/You give me smiles and we get down from Sweat (Until The Morning) is my favourite. There is one great pop song here, Dont Wanna Run No More, but not much else. PC REVIEWSMUSIC T HE advance signals were not good. In the lead-up to the release of their third album, the rumour mill was produc- ing some disquieting titbits. Arctic Monkeys wanted to move away from the commercial end of the market as they were bothered by the whole concept of fame. They intended to explore the darker side of their muse so they approached Josh Homme of gothic desert rockers Queens Of The Stone Age to produce their third album. And the Arctic Monkeys hardcore loved the idea. They bombarded their messageboards gleefully predicting that the chavs and neds who had popu- lated Monkeys gigs since the band broke big back in 2005 with I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor would be driven away by the bands dense uncommercial new sound and theyd have the Monkeys to themselves again. Except this process had already begun with 2007s occasionally impenetrable Favourite Worst Nightmare, which had some fantastic songs, but also served up some worryingly prog-ish moments. And the less said about the pointless Alex Turner side-project The Last Shadow Puppets the better. But Josh Homme? Really? Queens Of The Stone Age may be the single most overrated band in the history of rock music. Theyve written one great song (Feelgood Hit Of The Summer) but tend to rely on glowering guitar lines and their much-touted but actually drab desert soundscapes to make up for their otherwise total lack of melodic chops. So, it was with a heavy heart that I approached Humbug. My Propeller, the first track, handily featured a twangy guitar line straight from the QOTSA book of riffs, which seemed to immediately confirm my prejudices. But then in came Turners lovely, snoozy croon -- more Morrissey than Homme -- and his priapic chat about My propeller wont spin/And I cant get it started on my own/When are you arriving? True, its a mid-paced saunter rather than a gallop and the tune is pretty anaemic but its not quite the knotty, gnarly rubbish I was expecting. Then comes Crying Lightning, the recent, underachieving single, with the albums best hook and all seems well. Yet its not. You cant deny a bands yearning to develop artistically but Humbug sounds half-finished. Turners croon is effective, the atmospherics are marshalled well, there are some nice flourishes (castanets, sublime harmo- nies) and Turners little vignettes are as evocative as ever -- Cornerstone is the closest hes ever come to a John Lennon moment -- and it all comes together satisfyingly. The problem is that there are so few memorable tunes. There are a number of echoes of hooks and melodies but Humbug has nothing that will get the masses singing. Job done then, I guess. Larger-than-lifeU2gripWembley THE BIG NOISE Arctic Monkeys Humbug(Domino,13.70) PAUL CONNOLLY Forgettable: Monkeys exit the dancefloor POP The Nextmen Join.The.Dots. (Sanctuary,12.72) BRAD ELLIS, aka Brad Baloo, and Dominic Betmead, aka Dom Search, both from Cambridge, are The Nextmen and they specialise in getting the party started. Their fourth and best album is a dizzying collection of roughed- up dancehall, jazzy dubstep, lovers rock and hyperactive disco-funk. If anything, its a little too diverse as Ellis and Betmead rely on an ever-shifting cast of collaborators including Ms Dynamite and Kivanc (a dead ringer, vocally, for Suggs), so its difficult to pin down The Nextmens sound. That said, the gospelly funk of Round Of Applause, the crisp electro of Stay At Home and the cheekiness of So Many Girls will ensure any identity problems are swiftly overlooked. PC OCCASIONALLY an album will appear, as if from nowhere, sounding like nothing else around. The XXs debut is one such triumph. Theyre a London band of four teens -- two boys and two girls -- whose stated influences (Pixies, The Kills) appear less appropriate than those from much longer ago. The minimalism of darkly lovely VCR owes more to Welsh trio Young Marble Giants from 1980 than anything more contemporary, while Islands filches a bass line from ska reprobates The Beat. Theres a sweet mystery at the core of the music, too, which is welcome in these exposition- heavy times. Marvellous stuff. PC popu-hadwhonedsandchavsthe thesincegigsMonkeyslated 2005inbackbigbrokeband OnGoodLookYouBetIwith drivenbewouldDancefloorThe densebandsthebyaway andsoundnewuncommercial toMonkeysthehavetheyd hadprocessthisExcept 2007swithbegunalready impenetrableoccasionally Nightmare,WorstFavourite fantasticsomehadwhich someupservedalsobutsongs, To order any CD reviewed, call The London Lite CD service on 01634 832789. All prices include P&P INDIE The XX XX (YoungTurks,11.74) POP Tinchy Stryder Catch22 (Island,12.72) TINCHY STRYDER may be a home-grown urban pop star but he shares at least one characteristic with his hip hop peers across the water -- a total inability to edit his work. Catch 22, his second album, is a ridiculous 17 tracks long and stretches to almost an hour. Thats without the bonus disc, and theres plenty of dross on this that should have been jettisoned. Spotlights weary blend of cheesy synths and two-step is puddle-deep and just as wet, while We Got Dem featuring Chipmunk includes the line, Ive got money coming out my anus. Nice. But there are some crackers, especially the rugged Pit Stop and Never Leave You, a glamtastic duet with Amelle. Theres a 35-minute classic buried here. PC POP Vagabond YouDontKnowTheHalf OfIt(Polydor,10.78) Arctics leave the fans cold THE BIG GIG U2 WembleyStadium ANDREW PERRY index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html