The Zodiac, Oxford
8th September 2006

Surprisingly, the Nizlopi live experience isn’t just rehashings of the Westlife Christmas single-thrashing JCB Song all night. Leamington Spa’s Luke Concannon (main vocals, guitar and occasionally a bodhran hand drum) and John Parker (double bass, rather loud beatbox and occasional guitar and vocals) make far more of a noise than you’d think; their multi-personnel recorded sound is rather impressively rendered on stage by just the two of them as an enthusiastic, meandering funk/soul/folk/skiffle amalgamation.

I should laud Nizlopi for their originality, passion, musicality, rapport and interaction with the audience, social awareness etc. But I just can’t. I’ve never been so irritated a band so accomplished and so loved by their crowd. I just can’t help feeling that they’re more suited to a pitch at Tottenham Court Road tube station.

Both their lyrics and musical style come across as an awkward combination of earnestness and lightheartedness, and it doesn’t really work for me. The anti-Blair/Brown/Bush/BNP politics of the chirpy Part of You is Gay sound like a naïve mixture of the brave and contrived. There’s no doubt that they mean well – they use recycled card and organic cotton for their CDs and t-shirts, and champion their home-town independent label FDM Records – but, combined with their cod hiphop and embarrassing rapping (like on ExtraOrdinary), it all smacks of trying too hard to bend genres and be different. It’s a shame, as those are also the main things they have going for them.

Luke’s soulful and versatile voice has been compared to Tracy Chapman’s; however, his refusal to stick to one note for more than a microsecond remind me more of Craig David, albeit sitting far less comfortably with the accompaniment than Craig’s voice does.

I do want to like them; everyone else here tonight certainly loves them. Perhaps, in time, they’ll settle into a groove and iron out the awkwardness.


From Nightshift, October 2006