REVIEW: 10cc at the New Theatre? I don't like it - I love it

Legends 10cc on stage Picture: Reinout Bros <i>(Image: Reinout Bros)</i>
Legends 10cc on stage Picture: Reinout Bros (Image: Reinout Bros)

At 8.20pm I wasn’t sure whether I would like 10cc.

By 8.25pm, I loved them.

Playing to a packed-out New Theatre crowd, the Dreadlock Holiday hitmakers put on an evening of stellar entertainment – with old favourites like 1972’s breakthrough hit Donna rubbing shoulders with lead singer Graham Gouldman’s 2022 James Webb Space Telescope-inspired Floating in Heaven.

On a balmy October night, the accomplished showmen power through a succession of hits, finishing their more than 90 minute set with the instantly-recognisable reggae-inspired Dreadlock Holiday.

As Gouldman carves up the final lyrics, changing them to ‘I don’t like Oxford, I love it’, pounding ragga rhythm muffles the sound of a crowd of hundreds getting to their feet for a standing ovation.

The line up may have changed a little since Stockport boys 10cc shot onto the scene in 1972, but the five men on stage on Thursday night are masters of their trade – as assured now as they were 50 years ago when they enjoyed their first radio play as Tony Blackburn’s Record of the Week.

Like being driven by a competent chauffeur in leather-and-walnut luxury, there is something comforting about being in the hands of talented musicians who know their instruments, know their songs and, importantly, know how to put on a good show.

It is almost two hours by the time the group has returned to accept its standing ovation and sing an encore, and we’ve been taken on a dizzying drive through five decades’ worth of 10cc hits.

The journey takes in crowd favourites like frenetic rock and roll jive Good Morning Judge, early smash Rubber Bullets and Wall Street Shuffle. All of them sung pitch-perfectly by Gouldman and younger tour singer Iain Hornal.

Piercing guitar solos puncture their set, giving Oxford-raised Stratocaster-slinger Rick Fenn the chance to show off his teeming talent.

Watching him close the show soloing with keyboardist Keith Hayman in Rubber Bullets is to watch two musicians perfectly in tune with each other.

It is the kind of harmony that comes from practice, which, given they’ve been touring together for more than a decade and a half, is hardly a surprise.

Beautifully choreographed lighting perfectly complements the music, coming into its own on songs like acoustic heartbreaker I’m Not In Love where spotlights pirouette across the hall.

In Clockwork Creep, which imagines events through the eyes of a jumbo jet and a ticking time bomb on board the aeroplane, lights that snap from one side of the stage to the other convey the imminent catastrophe almost as well as the music.

In short, it’s a joy to watch. I don’t just like it, I love it.