Category Archives: 2009

Emiliana Torrini

O2 Academy, Oxford
9th September 2009

Let me be clear – I’d turn up to see Emiliana Torrini sing the phonebook. But it doesn’t mean that I think everything she sings is perfect. I loved the dreamy electronica of 1999’s Love in the Time of Science, but found 2005’s Fisherman’s Woman achingly beautiful yet sad and difficult to listen to (fitting for a work borne out of several personal tragedies). And last year’s Me and Armini was a little on the odd side. For example, according to Emiliana tonight, that album’s title track is about a stalker whose spirit has entered her via whisky…

However, her performance tonight wins me over and makes me reappraise those two most recent albums. The focus is her voice, and her versatile five-piece backing band visit everything from table steel guitar to harmonium, glochenspiel and bowed cymbals to recreate her records’ varied instrumentation around it.

Her songs are unashamedly personal; she means them, rather than acts them, and takes her time to explain them to us.

It’s almost as if you have to see her singing to really appreciate it. Her voice can be both strong and vulnerable, melancholy and uplifting. Quirky like her fellow Icelander Bjork and at times reminiscent of the Sugarcubes (her drummer Siggi was a founding member), she’s not bothered about sticking to genres; Me and Armini visits reggae and Heard It All Before jazz and ska, yet she mostly sticks to the acoustic folk of songs like Heartstopper and Fireheads, occasionally veering towards the strangely prog in Gun and into the lush synths of To Be Free. Unemployed in Summertime was originally trip hoppy, but tonight it’s more like jazz and country – yet doesn’t lose any of its charm. And big European hit Jungle Drum is far less twee live.

Lovely is the best word for it, and I leave feeling all warm and fuzzy.


From Nightshift, October 2009

Rosalita and Off The Radar

The Jericho Tavern, Oxford
4th March 2009

Rosalita are an interesting proposition. Visually, there’s something of a shambolic swagger about them – and I’m not really sure about singer Kris’s white woollen overcoat, hat, grey jumper and the mockney voice he sings/talks/yelps in – but the music is far more tight. It has a punchy, melodic 80s bass-led and synth-augmented vibe, and there’s quite a bit of ska in there somewhere among the hooks.

Manga Girl is a nice slice of pop-punk punchiness – something The Faint might do if they lightened up a bit. What Would Your Mother Say (a cautionary tale of a youngster going off the rails) is also quite sparky and catchy, and Art Attack is – joyously – about Neil Buchanan’s Art Attack (“Not as good as Hart Beat… TV ain’t what it used to be”).

All more fun, I’m afraid, than Off the Radar.

On paper, they’ll probably sound great. But therein lies the problem – they come over as far less the sum of their parts. It’s a shame, because they’ve been together for ages and have obviously finely crafted their style and songwriting, but their particular blend of jangly rock n’ roll blues indie pub rock doesn’t work for me. The guitar parts are too frenetic and just meander around without really nailing anything, and the rest doesn’t get anywhere either.

There’s nothing really wrong with songs like Cut to the Chaser and The Man from Del Monte – they’re just not very memorable. On the plus side, the harmonies between guitarist Daz and bassist Tim sound rather charming.

The whole experience reminded me of watching a TV programme because it sounded great in the Radio Times, but then realising when it’s finished that you were quite happy to sit through it but weren’t engaged at all and can’t remember anything that happened. Like the second series of Heroes, really.


From Nightshift, April 2009


O2 Academy, Oxford
5th June 2009

The Dewaele brothers are busy people. Part of top Belgian pop/rock/electro combo Soulwax for the past 14-odd years, David and Stephen are also the remix/DJ duo 2manydjs, who emerged in the early 00s with some legendary bootleg sets. They used to have a show on Belgian radio, and tonight’s gig is part of a tour to celebrate the launch of Radio Soulwax as a web radio show (featuring Soulwax live, DJ sets and special guests, apparently).

This is a live production set – mixing and producing live rather than mixing just pre-prepared stuff, so no outing for Bootylicious/Smells Like Teen Spirit.

It’s a constantly changing amalgamation. I spot NY Lipps – a mashup of Funky Town and Soulwax’s NY Excuse – being mixed into their own remix of Soulwax’s E Talking – a live mix of their own remix of their own song!

The highlight is really the animated record covers. Dizzee Rascal’s eyes and eyebrows dance to Bonkers (which, predictably, drives the crowd crazy); MGMT bop on the cover of Oracular Spectacular; the mouth from Fischerspooner’s #1 album has an artistic case of record vomiting; and the assorted members of the (Human) League Unlimited Orchestra are looking lively (for their age) during Open Your Heart (Love and Dancing was arguably the first proper remix album, of course). The mainstream (Bodyrox’s Yeah Yeah) joins the more obscure (is Mr Oizo’s Cut Dick obscure?), the older (CLS’s Can You Feel It), the currently cool (Tiga’s Shoes, Justice’s Phantom Pt II) and rock (The Clash’s Rock the Casbah and AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap).

It’s much more interesting than a standard DJ set, and there’s some very clever technical wizardry going on. I guess they’re doing it with CDs, mixers/samplers, a laptop and crafty planning; I can’t work out how the synchronised cover art fits in, but I can see them beavering away twiddling knobs to some effect, so I’m satisfied. Mystery AND fun – bargain!


From Nightshift, July 2009



Common People 2018: Boney M, Morcheeba and the Jacksons – South Park, Oxford – 26th May 2018

Paul Draper – O2 Academy 2, Oxford – 7th March 2018

Jorja Smith – O2 Academy, Oxford – 11th February 2018

Nathassia – The Bullingdon, Oxford – 14th July 2017

Soulwax – Electric Brixton, London – 8th April 2017

Goldfrapp – O2 Academy, Oxford – 20th March 2017

Sal Para – Her single – February 2017

Vienna Ditto – Ticks EP – May 2016

Wild Swim – Untitled EP – January 2016

Esther Joy Lane – Esther Joy Lane – October 2015

Charli XCX – O2 Academy, Oxford – 30th March 2015

Rae Morris – O2 Academy 2, Oxford – 8th February 2015

Hozier – O2 Academy, Oxford – 21st January 2015

La Roux – O2 Academy, Oxford – 15th November 2014

Tiger Mendoza and David Griffiths – Along Dangerous Roads EP – November 2014

Amy Simpson – Fairy Tales, Stories & Myths EP – July 2014

Banks – O2 Academy 2, Oxford – 28th March 2014

Katy B – O2 Academy, Oxford – 27th March 2014

Foxes – O2 Academy 2, Oxford – 28th February 2014

Vienna Ditto – Ugly EP – November 2013

Blue – O2 Academy, Oxford – 25th October 2013

Major Lazer – O2 Academy, Oxford – 2nd May 2013

Secret Rivals – Just Fall album – May 2013

Jessie Ware – O2 Academy, Oxford – 11th March 2013

Space – O2 Academy, Oxford – 9th March 2013

Kodaline – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford – 13th February 2013

Bright Light Bright Light – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford – 27th October 2012

Marina and the Diamonds – O2 Academy, Oxford – 15th October 2012

Errors – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford – 8th May 2012

Lianne La Havas – O2 Academy 2, Oxford – 9th March 2012

Rizzle Kicks – O2 Academy, Oxford – 8th March 2012

Babybird – O2 Academy 2, Oxford – 29th January 2012

Professor Green – O2 Academy, Oxford – 1st November 2011

East 17 – O2 Academy, Oxford – 2nd September 2011

N-Dubz – O2 Academy, Oxford – 20th July 2011

Sparkadia, A.Human and La Shark – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford – 24th February 2011

Emiliana Torrini – O2 Academy, Oxford – 9th September 2009

2manydjs – O2 Academy, Oxford – 5th June 2009

Rosalita and Off The Radar – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford – 4th March 2009

The Subways – Carling Academy, Oxford – 2nd October 2008

Wakestock – Blenheim Palace – 29th June 2008

Alphabeat and Palladium – Carling Academy, Oxford – 28th January 2008

Erasure – New Theatre, Oxford – 3rd September 2007

The Sounds – The Zodiac, Oxford – 24th March 2007

The Noisettes and The Victorian English Gentlemens Club – The Zodiac, Oxford – 22nd January 2007

White Rose Movement – The Zodiac, Oxford – 27th November 2006

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – The Zodiac, Oxford – 15th October 2006

Nizlopi – The Zodiac, Oxford – 8th September 2006

The Lightning Seeds – The Zodiac, Oxford – 5th June 2006

Kula Shaker – The Zodiac, Oxford – 18th May 2006

The Go! Team and Smoosh – Oxford Brookes University – 5th March 2006

Idiot Pilot and The Seal Cub Clubbing Club – The Zodiac, Oxford – 6th February 2006

Eskimo Disco, Trademark and Script – The Exeter Hall, Oxford – 2nd December 2005

Knifehandchop, Nervous Testpilot and The Nailbomb Cults – The Wheatsheaf, Oxford – 13th November 2005

King Biscuit Time – The Zodiac, Oxford – 25th September 2005

The Mission – The Zodiac, Oxford – 8th September 2005

Josh Rouse – The Zodiac, Oxford – 17th July 2005

Big Speakers, Flooded Hallways and Capsky – The Cellar, Oxford – 3rd June 2005

Melanie C – The Zodiac, Oxford – 2nd May 2005

I Am Kloot – The Zodiac, Oxford – 16th April 2005

Thirteen Senses – The Zodiac, Oxford – 8th March 2005

The Others – The Zodiac, Oxford – 25th October 2004

The Ordinary Boys and Dive Dive – The Zodiac – 15th October 2004

Polysics – The Zodiac, Oxford – 16th September 2004

The Last Trailerpark – The September Gurls, The Schla La Las, Goldrush and The Black Madonnas – The Cellar, Oxford – 20th July 2004

The (International) Noise Conspiracy – The Zodiac, Oxford – 8th June 2004

Simple Kid – The Zodiac, Oxford – 18th April 2004

Ulrich Schnauss – The Bullingdon Arms, Oxford – 28th February 2004

Dogs Die In Hot Cars – The Zodiac, Oxford – 11th February 2004

Cayto – The Cellar, Oxford – 16th December 2003

The Futureheads – The Zodiac, Oxford – 13th October 2003

Longview – The Zodiac, Oxford – 2nd July 2003

Fiel Garvie, Roquphane and The Epstein-Barr Virus Band – The Cellar, Oxford – 17th June 2003

Panel Of Judges, Byrne, The Broken Family Band, The Maplettes and Spartacus – The Cellar, Oxford – 27th February 2003

Scratch Perverts – Po Na Na, Oxford – 6th February 2003

Zoe Bicat, Spygirl and Joe Hughes – The Cellar, Oxford – 4th November 2002

British Sea Power – The Zodiac, Oxford – 15th October 2002

Trademark – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford – 29th August 2002

Cumulonimbus, Nervous Testpilot and Blunt Instruments – The Cellar, Oxford – 12th August 2002

a-ha – Royal Albert Hall, London – 25th June 2002

Fischerspooner – The Bridge, London – 30th May 2002

Mansun – The Zodiac, Oxford – 19th May 2002

The Soundtrack of our Lives and Sahara Hotnights – The Zodiac, Oxford – 11th May 2002

AM60 – The Cellar, Oxford – 31st January 2002