TAKING to the stage at the beautiful Royal Hall, Steve Harley looks less like the furry-collared, long-haired authority troubler from the 1970s, and with his suit jacket, waistcoat, glasses and functional haircut, more like an off-the-clock accountant.

But once he and the band lay into an early burst of numbers, seemingly without pause for breath, to rapturous applause from the nearly sold-out crowd, it’s clear he’s still the musical statesman he always was.

“I’m very conscious we’re playing too loud for a place like this; it feels like we should be more respectful,” he jokes, after energetic versions of Best Years Of Our Lives, Here Comes The Sun and Sling It, before continuing at the same pace and level for a near two-hour show.

Among classics including Judy Teen, Mr Soft, and Mr Raffles (Man It Was Mean), there’s an odd track or three from his latest album – although he takes five minutes to explain that it’s his latest album, but almost two-and-a-half years old (“You could release an album of s**t every year, but what’s the point?”). There are little vignettes and stories peppered throughout the show, as Harley has “a Condor moment, not a senior moment”, mid-song, then chips in with his experiences and thoughts on the Jimmy Savile scandal, both serious (“They all knew, all the DJs knew. Why didn’t they tell anybody?”), and less so (after worries about losing repeat fees through Savile’s TOTP shows being pulled from broadcast, “Happily, after some research, we found out he didn’t introduce any of ours”).

The band is uniformly excellent, but special praise goes to violinist and occasional guitarist Barry Wickens, whose extended solos received and deserved standing ovations.

By the two-song encore, featuring Love’s A Prima Donna and, naturally, Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me), an impromptu dancefloor has formed by the stage, with the crowd entirely on their feet.