It’s been a mixed-up, muddled-up, topsy-turvy lurch to glory for Art Brut. Heralded the saviours of rock & roll about two seconds after writing the defining manifesto that is ‘Formed A Band’, signed to indie Mecca Rough Trade then unceremoniously dumped while the record was still winging its way to the shops, retreating to first-base springboard Fierce Panda for a couple of Top 50 bothering singles, having Daniel Radcliffe claiming to be their biggest fan whilst simultaneously dashing their hopes by knocking back an offer to star in the title role of their ‘My Little Brother’ video … and then the geeky one who everyone suspected was the musical genius behind the whole shebang jumped ship on the eve of their first major tour. Lesser mortals would have jacked it in right there. Instead, our plucky heroes flicked a cheeky V sign to dreary old Albion and coolly and calmly became massive in Germany, becoming MTV regulars and gracing the cover of no less a publication than Rolling Stone – a trick they’re reportedly on their way to repeating in Mexico and what’s soon to be known as the United States of Argos.
It’s over a year since their last proper London show – an exuberant but decidedly low-key students union gig in New Cross. Tonight the much larger Mean Fiddler is packed tighter than The Horrors’ trousers, there’s sweat dripping off the ceiling and the crowd are chanting “Art Brut – Top of the Pops!” like people used to do at those early Morrissey gigs (except they chanted “Morrissey, Morrissey, Morrissey-ey!” but you get the idea). And the band haven’t even come on yet.