Gig review: Hue & Cry, O2 ABC, Glasgow

THE latest annual weekend reunion hosted in Glasgow by the brothers Kane – performing here as an acoustic duo, ahead of a full band show the next night – kicks off a month-long UK tour promoting new album Hot Wire, self-styled as “filled with New Orleans-inspired funk”.

The prevailing mode, in a set that mixed this fresh material with older favourites, was actually more in a soul/jazz vein, cross-fertilized with Billy Joel-esque MOR balladry.

Greg Kane once summed up the pair as miserabilist intellectuals who make “candyfloss pop music”. It’s a contrast reflected in the clash between Pat’s day job as a jargon-happy cultural/political pundit and the fact their current career renaissance was kick-started by reaching the finals of TV comeback show Hit Me Baby One More Time in 2005, with a cover of Beyoncé’s Crazy in Love.

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The duo format, with Greg switching between keyboards and guitar to accompany Pat’s vocals, highlighted how such contradictions permeate their oeuvre, past and present, with the pop genres’ characteristic immediacy often undermined by excess melodic and lyrical complexity, or clutter.

There’s no disputing that Pat possesses a fine set of pipes, his delivery throughout richly blending sensuous warmth with authoritative muscularity, though in expressive and dynamic terms it also proved oddly unvarying.

Tellingly, the most affecting numbers were also the simplest and most direct, such as the mournful but stirring Keep It Inside, and the soulful waltz-time measures of Stumble Through the Dance With You.

Rating: ***