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The Guardian logo Tom Robinson at the Duke Of York's

By Robin Deneslow

AFTER a 13-year switchback career that has involved periods of massive success, as well as periods when he has fallen badly out of fashion, Tom Robinson is once again edging back into the musical frame. Every Sunday in May he is appearing in the West End for his first London shows in 18 months (apart from guest spots at benefits).

He gives a long and brave performance, for the first half consists of his biggest successes so far, while the second set is entirely new material from a forthcoming album. Most performers would play safe and end with the guaranteed favourites rather than actually start with 24-6-8 Motorway.

Backed by a competent, if somewhat rough and ready, five-piece band, and looking far-more athletic than he did back in the punk era, he began by running through the early angry songs like Power In The Darkness and Glad To Be Gay (an anthem that horrified even the most adventurous independent record companies in the seventies) alongside later ballad's like his '83 hit. War Baby.

What they had in common was a mixture of a very English tunefulness, with echoes of music hall in songs like Martin, alongside an evocative European influence presumably derived from the time he has spent in Germany.

On the first hearing the new songs seemed very much in the European mould, as follow-up to Atmospherics Many were like condensed stories with futuristic fantasy lyrics - about life in Holland or Belgium in the next century, but alongside these was a solid, mainstream new rocker, This Little Romance Is Over. It sounded as if the new album should bring an other up-turn in his career.


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