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Review: Wet Wet Wet, SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Kevin Reynolds' verdict: three stars

With just six days to go until Christmas the atmosphere at tonight's Wet Wet Wet gig has an even more joyous feel than usual, the thousands of fans congregating in the Hydro are in a celebratory mood.

The band are currently touring to push their new Step By Step The Greatest Hits album but their legion of fans would've turned up regardless. This group have an unwavering support that is almost as cyclopean as the mighty arena they're about to perform in.

Opening song Run is about as close as Wet Wet Wet come to a rock song, featuring Graeme Duffin's moderately overdriven guitar and a standard-issue backbeat, though Marti Pellow's vocals are too smooth to convey any real intensity.

The exuberant Wishing I Was Lucky, taken from their 1987 debut album Popped In Souled Out, allows the band to play more to their strengths. In a live setting the galloping but funky bass Graeme Clark pumps out is effective, and this song is perfectly suited to Pellow's cocky, technical vocal style.

It's clear that the focus of the night is the charismatic Pellow, as evidenced from him removing a piece of clothing and receiving a huge round of applause for his efforts. "Imagine if every time you came home and took off your jacket that happened!" he commented wryly.

Befitting the star of the show, Pellow has a microphone stand that is literally a stunningly bright light tube. He says it cost him £2000 before reverting back to a normal stand, which looks far less like an unwieldy lightsabre.

As the band plunge deep into their 21 song set it's clear that a theme is emerging. Marti Pellow can sing long notes with lots of vibrato on them, and will do so on many occasions, whether the song needs it or not.

It is however the only hint of self-indulgence during a show that's all about making sure the audience hear as many songs as possible before they leave. At times the audience's singing is almost on a level with the PA system, especially on Angel Eyes (Home And Away) and Goodnight Girl.

Ultimately there's nothing new on offer tonight, but nobody wants or expects that. A good stadium pop gig will fill the Hydro up like a gargantuan bowl of homemade soup, something comforting and safe that you can enjoy with friends and family. This spirit is exemplified during the epic sing-along that is With a Little Help from My Friends, written by McCartney and Lennon within a limited vocal range, a key factor in making it easy and fun to sing for a wide variety of people.

Inevitably the evening concludes with Wet Wet Wet's biggest UK hit, Love Is All Around. From its opening strains onwards the crowd's response is wildly ecstatic, a show of appreciation which must be tempered for the men on stage by the fact that the song is, like two of their three UK number ones, not an original composition of theirs.

Regardless of the fact that they conclude tonight's proceedings as a glorified covers band they've managed to provide thousands of fans with a consistent evening of nostalgic entertainment.

Their masterful level of showbiz nous and innate charm is the reason why they remain one of the UK's favourite musical acts.

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