If you’ve ever seen a decent band live you’ll know that one of the great contrivances is the shocked encore. “What?  Us? Oh c’mon.” That they’ve already lined up the three numbers they’ll play before slinging the drumsticks into the crowd and shouting “Goodnight London!” is by the by. It’s an unspoken complicity everyone understands. 

Few mastered it better than Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Borrowed straight from the Gospel churches, he would collapse, broken by the sheer exhaustion of being a channel for divine inspiration. Acolytes would gather, help him from his knees, hallelujah, and wrap his cloak about his sweat-soaked form. Supported from the stage, he would turn at the last, head back to the mic and, despite the protestations of his backing singers, deliver just one mo’ number. Ah, the sacrifice. 

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight, I give you, Nigel Farage! 

An unlikely comparison, I know, but did anyone really think he wouldn’t make it fast with one more thang?

The question, though, is why? In an uninspiring clash of personality-free mediocrities, both promising in variant form “a plan” or nameless “change”, Farage may have spotted a gap in the market. 

It may, equally, be the long touted plan of occupying the body of the Tory party while it still exists, rallying its frustrated Right to his colours, sweeping up social conservatives in the Red Wall seats and carrying the Reform banner deep into traditional Labour territory too

That means for the Left, the game of “say nothing, do nothing” attentisme is over. Unloved anyway, the power of its Red Wedge recently revealed in the failure to rid itself of Diane Abbott, its nastier instincts revealed in the private school VAT raid – a visceral impulse laden with unintended consequence – Labour is going to have to fight on its flanks as well as in the centre.

Whatever way you want to look at it, Farage has lit it up with his greatest hits and a hell of a solo.

Solo. Ah, there’s the thing. Can the band match the flying fingers and that masterful use of distortion?  After his exile on Main Street, Farage may be able to turn it up to 11 but isn’t that only drowning out artistic differences? And then there’s paying for the tour.

This is Farage’s last comeback. Either Elvis conquers Vegas or it’ll end in “the who?”

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