There aren't many concept albums about the lives of rad 80s car designers. And there are even less that are the brainchild of a Welsh psychedelic bard and an American avant-garde hip-hop twiddler, and feature a podgy sex-obsessive on guest vocals. Which is one way of saying that Neon Neon's gleaming 'Stainless Style' is a pretty unlikely record.
"It's a biographical show," explains a well-groomed Gruff Rhys, usually of Super Furry Animals. Tonight each song is accompanied by visuals obliquely related (like the songs) to the life of John DeLorean, ranging from snazzy corporate logos to (on 'Sweat Shop') pistons and industrial lubricants alarmingly intercut with heavily-censored porn. DeLorean's most famous creation - the car used in 'Back to the Future' - is a recurring icon. Meanwhile, switching from keyboards to headless bass, LA's Boom Bip, aka Bryan Hollon. keeps the thin, pulsating synthesiser-pop ticking over.
After some persuasion the venue dims the lights for the bouncy 'Raquel' (i.e. Welch, with whom DeLorean alledgedly had an affair) and a montage of the sex symbol's screen appearances. Rhys may sometimes takes a Wikipedia bullet-point approach to lyrics ("Your father came from Bolivia / Your Irish mother made you a star") but this only helps elevate the surreal subject matter to the level of religious devotion.
Only Har Mar Superstar is not his usual ball of energy, looking slightly bored and sweaty between his vocal contributions. Instead the real superstars are Hollon's vintage synths, readily transporting the audience back into the ambition and excess of that most-missed of decades. Finest of all is the Kraftwerk-y 'I Lust U', coming over like a great lost electro-pop record you might find at car boot sale alongside a Ghostbusters lunchbox and wonder how anyone could make something so shimmering and sad. Unlikely, but all true.