IN the couple of years since they announced they were reforming - minus chief songwriter Martin Carr - Wirral chart toppers the Boo Radleys have been determined to prove theirs was not just a nostalgic stroll down memory lane.

Two new albums and some ecstatically received shows have cast off any doubts about Carr's absence, with the 30th anniversary celebrations surrounding the re-release of their 1993 masterpiece Giant Steps only adding to the impression that the Boos are very much a going concern again.

This latest half-term jaunt around the UK sees the band team up with early 90s contemporaries Cud for a co-headlining tour that offers strong evidence that there was life in the county's indie scene before the flag-waving of Britpop came into view.

The band are taking turns to headline and so naturally this being home-ish territory for the Boo Radley's, it's Cud who are first on stage at a busy O2 Academy. 

Formed in Leeds in 1987, Cud have always seemed one of the era's hard-luck stories. Like fellow Yorkshiremen, Pulp, they were led by a charismatic, bespectacled singer in the larger than life form of Carl Puttman and like Pulp they were often accused of jokiness and novelty. 

Admittedly releasing a single called Purple Love Balloon (tonight's opener) and covering Hot Chocolate's You Sexy Thing didn't help Cud's cause but reliving the sheer catchiness and - for want of a better word - funkiness of so many of their songs makes you wonder why, unlike Jarvis Cocker and co, they never scored that elusive hit single.

Wirral Globe: Cud at Liverpool O2 Academy Cud at Liverpool O2 Academy (Image: Jamie Bowman)

They came close with 1992's brilliant Rich and Strange  where guitarist Mike Dunphy's choppy guitar combines thrillingly with Puttman's knowing lyrics ("I'm fat but I know where it's at").

The introduction of a Bez-style dancer from the audience detracts a bit from Puttnam's own stage presence but the joy on the crowd member's face is a reminder of how grin-inducing Cud's music could be.

There's a similar sense of happiness surrounding the Boo Radley's entrance with frontman Sice Rowbottom smiling from ear to ear as he launches into I Hang Suspended from Giant Steps. 

For the more casual fan it might be surprising that tonight set leans so heavily on the 1993 album rather than say 1995's number one Wake Up! (the opener is followed by two more songs from the album) but the period when the Boo Radleys actually became pop stars has always felt like something of a millstone for a band far more comfortable with the shoegazey experimentalism of their earlier material ("It was good wasn't it?" says Sice referring to Giant Steps at one point) or the unjustly forgotten guitar pop of 1998's Kingsize. 

The presence of a trumpet player is a real boon for the sound as is new guitarist Louis Smith who happily accepts the plaudits from Sice for his replication of Carr's hooks. They both combine perfectly on a storming version of Lazarus while the whole band enjoy a thrash through 1992's Lazy Days.

The Boos don't do encores, Sice tells us, so it's Wake Up Boo! to finish with its Proustian rush of mid-90s optimism a fitting way to close this latest chapter of a comeback that is being done for the right reasons.