The divisive noughties indie kids prove why they were worthy of their high regard two decades on.
Why does everyone hate Razorlight?
Thats what I asked myself as I tried to shift a spare ticket I had for the indie stars greatest hits show in Edinburgh. The level of excuses as to why no one wanted it ranged from the raging to the sublime.
They were of a different time. almost twenty years ago. When indie was mainstream. When music wasn’t as disposable. When you couldn’t move for guitar bands with massive record deals and bigger egos.
And there was no bigger ego than that which belonged to Razorlight singer Johnny Borrell.
He was the self proclaimed “greatest songwriting of my generation” he of model looks and celebrity girlfriends. Maybe that’s why people took an instant dislike to him and his group.
Despite this they were popular. A number one album and song. They played the charity gig Live8 and had the distinction of scoring an impressive 8/10 in the NME for album Razorlight which the same publication also nominated for one of the worst albums of the year.
The group split went things got to much leaving Borrell to carry on with new bandmates. Eleven years later the original line uo got back together and released a greatest hits album called Razorwhat? The Best of Razorlight.
It was touring that compilation that brought them to the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. Not an obvious choice for a guitar band to play but then Rarozlight aren’t obvious.
Things got off to a shaky start. ‘Rip It Up’ didn’t quite have the desired effect with Borrells vocals being hard to hear. The stuttering start was met with an uninterested capital crowd.
‘In The Morning’ got the audience going but it was ‘Golden Touch’ that lit the fuse. The crowd matched the singers vocals and brought a condolence from the group.
Borrell, who must have a picture of Dorian Gray on his dressing room rider, didn’t look to have aged in the last twenty years.
To one side he had guitarist Björn Ågren while at the other stood Carl Delemo and his trusted bass. Behind them surrounded by a plastic guard to protect everyone from his drumming and immaculately messed up hair was the supremely talented Andy Burrows.
They might not have been dispensing on stage banter as much as others but you couldn’t fault their ability.
The band hit their stride. Borrell bared his chest on the style of vintage Jagger and guided us all through a ‘In the City’ as it he was doing an impression of a ‘Gloria’ inspired Van Morrison.
There’s more to Razorlight than indie punk anthems tighter than their skin hugging jeans. ‘Hold On’ glows with a Northern Soul groove while ‘Wire To Wire’ sounds a lot better than you remember it.
It’s the bangers that people are here for and you tend to forget for a period they soundtracked our lives. ‘Something Else’ instantly takes you back to easier times while ‘Rock N Roll Lies’ flies at a blistering pace.
The encore seen them take a risk. Not with ‘Don’t Go Back To Dalston’ which is probably the song with typifies their sound more than anything else. Instead, it was ‘Goodnight’ from this last stupid album Olympus Sleeping that had everyone by surprise. A frantic and pounding creature sounding as heavy as anything they’ve ever done.
‘America’ brought the energy down a bit and the show to an end. You could argue it was the song that probably derailed the Razorlight train. Okay, it was their only single to top the charts but it did so at the expense of their credibility. They became that act it was cool to regard as uncool.
They might not have had the longevity of some of their peers but they do have a decent selection of songs.
Borrell left the stage with a massive smile on his face. He who laughs last laughs longest goes the old saying.
Is there a demand for new material form the outfit and is there a demand for the existing material they’ve amassed for a greatest hits tour?
Time will tell. What was clear was that there’s still a few folk who hold Razorlight in high regard. And with performances like they put on in Edinburgh, that number will surely increase.