When a band come onstage to a recorded reading of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, they either take themselves far too seriously or someone, somewhere is having a great big laugh.
Despite the steely thousand-yard stare employed by 47-year-old former Inspiral Carpets singer Tom Hingley (picture him in your mind: an unlikely genetic blending of Ricky Gervais and Mark E Smith), the feeling is he’s in on the joke at some point along the line.
His mission here was theoretically to perform one of the Inspiral Carpets’ most well-remembered Madchester era albums, 1991’s The Beast Inside, in its entirety, although anyone who witnessed the flimsy turnout and the entreaties to hang about and have your copy of his memoir signed after might have suspected this was the last gasp of a once mildly famous pop star wringing the final shreds of his audience’s goodwill and filthy lucre out of them. Fortunately – and crucial to the success of the show – were the facts that Hingley genuinely seemed to be here for the joy of performing, and is also self-aware enough to neither expect the rock star treatment nor be daunted when he doesn’t get it.
After the singles Caravan and Don’t Be Cruel, he brushed off hollered requests for Saturn V to stick to the script, creating his own atmosphere by grabbing the tallest guy close to him and forcing the crowd to huddle close and jump along. As his capable band chugged along at a fair volume, the rubber band bass leading the line, he lurched through the battering Grip, the voguish late 1980s designer gloom of Niagara and a cataclysmic Further Away which saw his lyric sheets go flying and Hingley screaming at the crowd to “get down the front”. It was an exercise in consummate, entertaining showmanship, and his fans even got Saturn V by the end of the encore.
The Scotsman reviews Tom Hingley and The Lovers performing The Beast Inside at O2 ABC, Glasgow, on Friday 7 September