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Music Review Gloriously bonkers ride with Go-Kart Mozart

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Go-Kart Mozart
Star and Shadow Cinema
Newcastle-upon-Tyne

FOR a band which rarely tours, who’d have thought Go-Kart Mozart would make absolute sense performing live? Fronted by the endearingly eccentric Lawrence, GKM may lack the crystalline perfection or comely swagger of his previous bands Felt and Denim but they exude a delirious cartoonish logic which is all their own.

In a parallel universe Lawrence — the man who could put the “arch” into The Archies — would have his own animated series in which he drives around the country in a van, plays gigs and solves mysteries.

Go-Kart Mozart’s gloriously bonkers new album Mozart’s Mini-Mart forms the backbone of tonight’s show at the equally oddball Star and Shadow Cinema. Familiar Lawrence signifiers are all present and correct — Wendy Carlos on the sound system, 1970s soft-rock cultural references, wonky synthesisers and some slightly pervy subject matter.

In the flesh, they are an impressively tight outfit. Opening track Anagram of We Sold Apes comes on like the bother-booted theme tune to some ’70s TV science programme, while When You’re Depressed is possibly the jauntiest tale of self-loathing you will ever hear. Relative Poverty — so good it gets played twice — features the inspired pairing of “a-wop-bop-a-loo-la, a tenner a day.”

In trucker’s visor, twinned with a blood-and-custard bowling shirt, Lawrence cuts quite the cadaverous figure. The rest of the band look like something out of the Hair Bear Bunch. Not since the late-lamented Earl Brutus has a band dressed this badly sounded this good.

Inevitably there are calls for songs from the Felt era — last album Me and a Monkey on the Moon was released nearly three decades ago, fact-fans — but instead the audience is treated to GKM “absolute classics” We’re Selfish and Lazy and Greedy and Drinking Um Bongo. Ever the contrarian, Lawrence opts for Big Ship, the latest album’s Cliff Richard cover, rather than the infinitely better A New World penned by Roger Whittaker.

“There’s no need to worry,” announces Lawrence towards the end of the evening, “we don’t play for very long.” It could pass for irony, but he means it. The new album lasts a mere 34 minutes, roughly the length of your average Beatles record and it’s “for the music fan with the short attention span,” according to the sleeve notes.

While it is unlikely Mozart’s Mini Mart will earn him legions of new fans, Lawrence’s refusal to play the game does him credit. “I am the sardonic Lucifer,” he sings in Nub-End in a Coke Can, confirming that the devil does indeed have all the best tunes.

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