sportique. the inn on the green, ladbroke grove. 16th december 2006.

"i can't believe that love is all that remains / as i search the early hours for the secrets they contain"

while snugly ensconced in our spick and span new premises at in love with these times, in spite of these times mansions, london england, it is fair to say we still have plenty of vinyl lying around. amongst the gems which we're prone to trip over are three of our most treasured possessions: the "sad kaleidoscope" flexi, "sorry to embarrass you" 12" and "big pink cake" 7" - irreplaceable treats that continue to register in any sensible all time lists. but is it really so, really so strange to suggest (as we're about to) that sportique's legacy more than holds a candle to that of the great razorcuts ?

if you slide your memory forward to the grandiose but cosy creation albums, and then set those against both sportique's own spectacular run of gorgeous vulnera-pop early 7"s and the fact that their last two albums are amongst the best of the heady 00s, sportique do have a back catalogue (aah, witness "the kids are solid gold", "don't believe a word i say", "modern museums", "definition 79"...) which is quite formidable (that's french for formidable) and maintain their position in our eyes as still, frankly, the knees of bees. whisper it softly - not least to my 16 year old self, as you mess with kids' own favourite bands at your peril - but i think that, on balance, the sportsters may have outstripped even the razorcuts as gregory webster's finest popular music incarnation.

anyway. as we hid from the chill of this particular saturday night underneath the westway, our seditious conclusion was underlined when a reconstituted sportique mk. IV (rob pursey having vacated the office of bass guitarist, at least for the moment) kick off their parliament club slot with "if you ever change your mind", a reminder of the humour and self-deprecation that has crept increasingly into mr webster's writing over the years, while still sitting atop a lovable musical melee of melody and confusion, not least when it finishes with flapping drums in a very random manner. ("he's new", explains gregory of the drummer).

false endings aside, the set is as solid as ever, with at least a trio of unreleased songs - approximate titles "tables are turning", "invisible" and "big wide world" - to rub shoulders with the past, ably represented tonight by the driving guitar-pop of "anatomy of a fool" and, most smile-inducingly of all, the evergreen "love & remains". live, you lose the keyboards and the extra guitars which illuminate the songs in recorded form: but this is, as ever, aptly compensated by the superdistinctive vocal. let off the leash in the live environment, it is so perfectly, identifiably the same voice which helped propel "summer in yr heart" or "big pink cake" to legendary status. a bit like seeing yo rosehip at the glebe last month: such things are made to warm your soul. when sportique finish with a flourish with "other people's girlfriends" from 2003's "communique no. 9" set, they have been on stage for little more than twenty minutes, although to be fair that's longer than the entirety of that last album. even so, it is a little of a disappointment to have to regroup at the (friendly and not outrageously priced!) bar so soon after our involuntary foot-tapping had begun.

on sunday, i listened to sportique all day. they claim that there will be an album next year. if this is true, then such overdue product will make us very happy. for what it's worth, i still fervently believe that sportique have got at least one dub record in them, but i guess that may be a topic to pursue another time.

for now, this post is just a christmas card to say that yes, sportique are still out there. and they are, still, "getting closer..."


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