Steve Mason, Pete Um

Anthony Page 22/06/2010

For a long while it has seemed the pressure of being the ex Beta Band lead singer has blighted Steve Mason's solo career. Unsurprising really when you remember the hype over the 3 EP's and the following great, but always critically overshadowed by the EP's, Beta Band albums. Alongside Aerogramme the Beta Band seem destined to be rediscovered and reappraised by a future generation of musicians, much like Love, The MC5 and Gang Of Four, but the talent of Mason has always deserved more. Thankfully his new album Boys Outside has re awoken the press to his talents, gaining the sort of praise Mason's work hasn't got since the early Beta Band work, so with the praise for the new album ringing in his ears can Steve Mason cut it live?

From the moment he walked on stage Steve Mason seemed to ooze confidence. Hard to remember this was the same man who threatened, through a Myspace post, to quit music after the savage, and to me baffling, criticism of his first solo album Black Gold, under his King Biscuit Time alias. Wise cracking with the crowd gave way to three acoustic songs, three Beta Band songs no less, most notably 'Dr Baker' from the infamous 3 EP's. So that ended any will he won't he debate over playing Beta Band songs and seemed to show we were witnessing a man no longer weighed down by the work of old. After the first three songs the full band joined him on stage and the songs from the new album flowed, and the biggest praise I can pay is not one paled in comparison, indeed the best songs of the night were the new songs.

More guitar, and less synth and beat driven, than the King biscuit Time and Black Affair. The new material has an obvious Beta Band feel. The Beta Band at their very best though, a sound no other band has matched, not quite Indie, Trip Hop, Post Rock or Folk, but a stunning psychedelic mix of all of these sounds and more. Songs like 'Stress Position', 'Boys Outside', the next single 'Am I Just A Man' and what could just be the sound of this summers festivals 'Lost And Found'. Even songs from his King Biscuit Time work got an airing, set closer 'C I Am 15' especially sounding as good as anything else played all night, so in a word special, very special.

The hype is sure to grow and grow as Noel Gallagher gets ever nearer to unveiling his solo career. But at Cargo Steve Mason proved that Noel won't be the only icon of 90's music to finally find his solo voice. Towards the end he thanked a few people close to him for helping him find his passion for music once more. If you get the chance to see him live or hear the excellent Boys Outside album you'll want to thank them to. Using his real name for the first time the confidence shines through leading to the production of some of the best music Steve Mason has made since the Beta Band. And as a huge Beta Band fan that has got me very, very excited and trust me it should have you excited to.