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- Posted on Nov 26th 2009 11:29AM by Stephen Dowling
Now, nearly 15 years on from the high water marks of Blur vs Oasis, Haines is still with us; a little thicker round the middle, a little less thatch on top, but much less grumpy, it seems.
Haines was an always an acerbic and off-kilter frontman, and Auteurs gigs were rarely full of urbane story-telling or jokey bonhomie. But on Thursday night at Kilburn's Luminaire, he seemed in positively rude good humour.
A back catalogue built on the rainy day decay of British suburbia was leavened with asides from to the crowd, often halfway through verses. On '21st Century Man,' for instance, Haines' bleak pastiche of Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start the Fire', Haines reached the line "All through the 80s/Thatcher tried to get rid of the coal" and said to the crowd, "You know, in Newcastle, that line got a laugh." Cue much laughter when he returned to the line. "Liars," he bellowed, with cod drama.
This was, in a sense, a best-of show, with Haines drawing back to the Auteurs' Suede-sesque early classic 'Showgirl,' through to a clutch of songs from the band's dark-hearted masterpiece 'After Murder Park' and the mid-90s side-project Baader Meinhof, a meeting place between arty Seventies funk and international terrorism which is arguably one of the decade's unsung classics.
Haines' new-found generosity as a frontman extended itself during the closing coda of 'Lenny Valentino,' the Auteurs' best pop song, where he and his two piece band lurched through the final verse and chorus three times, Haines snarling the words amid chunky distorted guitar. Mellowing with age, it seems, can be fun after all.