NEIL Hannon gives us a wave. "Hi, we're Status Quo!" You wouldn't expect anything less from a man who looks like he's about to head off on a wild safari.
Thomas Walsh, on the other hand, is kitted out like an undertaker. Ever the reliable sport for snappy one-liners and comical put-downs, Walsh is on fire tonight. He dreams up Leo Burdock's: The Musical and makes jokes about Jeremy Irons and Ben Folds (Irons and Folds ... get it?) But why are we here? Oh yes, Hannon and Walsh's daft, delectable brand of "cricket rock". "Cricket pop," argues Walsh, correcting his batting partner behind the keyboard.
How this most mischievous of musical pairings ever managed to complete one album, let alone two, remains a mystery. On record, The Duckworth Lewis Method keep things tight and dream-like.
Give them a stage, throw in a few extra players (including Tosh Flood) and a dancing cricket team, and they can't help but make fun of themselves.
Forever in debt to ELO and McCartney, Dubliner Walsh (of Pugwash fame) brings a refined, gentlemanly presence to the songs, while Hannon (The Divine Comedy) keeps busy with the tongue-twisters (the wonderful Jiggery Pokery, still bowling us over ... sorry). These boys have it all covered, trading in shiny, electro-rock (The Sweet Spot), wistful balladry (The Umpire) and tasty funk (Line and Length). In between songs, they pile on the comedy gold. They appreciate our support, too.
"Play My Lovely Horse," shouts one fan. Well, they do love a good heckle. "F*** off! This is one show where I do not need to do that ... " But you know Hannon does.
The next song is about cricket (they all are). Some will question how long they can keep this joke running; others will simply enjoy it while it lasts. What matters, is that Hannon and Walsh make it seem effortless, ploughing through a sublime, two-hour set of melodious concept pop without so much as breaking a sweat. Good game, chaps. HHHHI