Now on solo record number three, former Beta Band and King Biscuit Time frontman Steve Mason seems to have fully settled into a guise that could now continue with infinite longevity.
Meet the Humans is a vibrant piece of work that incorporates the Scotsman’s trademark ability to infuse pop music with rhythms, samples and ever-curious hooks.
What’s more, splicing it together on the live stage with his two previous solo works means that there is now a set capable of encapsulating an audience without even the slightest thought of throwing in a couple of 90s classics just to appease them.
There are hands in the air moments right from the off at Manchester Academy 2, giving the packed-out room a chance to revel in what is surely one of the most euphoric Sunday nights they have had for a while.
‘Alright’ is a real highlight from the latest LP – intriguingly produced by Elbow’s Craig Potter – and judging by the huge reaction the track appears to have instantly become something of a centre piece in the live set.
Those who scoff at the radio-friendly approach taken by Potter’s band in recent years may have been apprehensive about such a vibrant artist as Mason enlisting his help, but that proves unfounded with a set that explores hip-hop, shoegaze, techno, acid house and much more. It’s a feast for the ears.
But at risk of that sounding incongruent, it should be stressed that each voyage is anchored by an instantly attention grabbing, often call and response chorus that holds everything together.
The main set comes to barnstorming end in the same way as 2013’s Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time, combining pop sensibility with a political conciseness during ‘Come to Me’.
And this is a theme that continues into a huge encore when the disjointed funk-propelled ‘Fight Them Back’ gives an opportunity for one last hurrah. The song is sandwiched in between ‘Planet Sizes’ and the beat-heavy ‘Words in My Head’ from the new record.
Mason appears to already have unrivalled confidence in his ability to transfer Meet the Humans to the live stage. It’s been been a wonderful ride.