The Tears @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire 23/​05/​05

When the announcement was made that Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler were to reunite after 10 years apart and form The Tears, it’s fair to say there were several eyebrows raised. Together, they started Britpop and became the first band to earn the now regular title of ‘Best New Band In Britain’. They released two critically acclaimed albums and hated Damon Albarn years before Liam Gallagher even realised who he was. But when Butler stormed out of sessions for Suede’s second album ‘Dog Man Star’, the band would never recover artistically. Could they really spark off the chemistry and writing flair they had demonstrated in the early 90’s, or would they simply reveal themselves as just another duo looking to earn their retirement fund.

For many, the decision had already been made. Back in December, The Tears played their first gig proper in London Heaven with tickets exchanging hands for over £100 a pair. First single Refugee stormed into the Top 10 last month and the album is one of the most eagerly awaited of the year. As the band wander on stage, the mood is one of celebration not expectation. First track ‘The Lovers’ sets the tone for the evening, with Anderson’s floating vocals fitting in hand in hand with Butler’s guitar. Gone are the nerves of the early Tears shows. Here is a band who know they’re great and don’t need any reassurance from a crowd who are more than willing to give it to them regardless.

As Butler glides across the stage to play next to his partner in crime, even the most sceptical among you will feel a small glimmer in your heart. After only a few songs, it’s easy to forget it’s been 10 years since they last performed in this way. ‘Imperfections’ gives us an insight into Brett’s mind as the words ‘your imperfections are so beautiful’ escape his mouth to head in the direction of the man to his left, oblivious to anything but his constant guitar wrestling. ‘Song For The Migrant Worker’ sees Butler briefly give up on his fight while he allows his newly found keyboard to shine through. ‘Refugees’ sets the venue on fire and was the perfect choice for lead single, while ‘Apollo 13’ closes the set with majesty, power, and the beautiful lines of ‘if you follow me I’ll follow you to the unknown’.

The Tears have arrived and they’re doing it the hard way. It would be so easy to allow the odd Suede track to slip into the set each night, but as Brett announces before encore closer ‘Ghost Of Used Days’, ‘we’re trying to be brave, so thanks for supporting us’. And that is exactly what they’ve been. With an arsenal of new songs and a rare on stage chemistry, they’re here for a reason and won’t be gunned down.

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