Category Archives: 2011

Professor Green

O2 Academy, Oxford
1st November 2011

Hackney rapper Professor Green is at his career zenith today, with the current number one, a second album just out and a reality TV show now available on 4OD. There’s certainly a lot to latch onto – the singsong delivery, the humour, the cheekiness… charm discernible to people who don’t usually stray into his territory.

His earliest chart successes – Just Be Good to Green and I Need You Tonight – skip along at a jolly pace, with Pro bounding around and furiously polishing the air; and it’s all about him, his backing band efficiently rendering his chart-friendly guest stars unnecessary.

But the material from his new album is mostly an anticlimax. I shouldn’t feel as relieved as I do when he follows the hostile D.P.M.O. with the much more fun first album track Kids That Love To Dance.

His development as an artist probably needed this step into contemplative introspection – the Eminem-like rant on his number one, Read All About It, about his Dad’s suicide and criticism of his talking about it, seems excusably cathartic – and it’s probably a deft step to avoid sliding into parody, but the night is defined by this dichotomy. The new stuff is more like the earlier Jungle: more aggressive than playful; more lugubrious than energetic. Self-deprication has slipped into self-indulgence; stuff like Astronaut – about a rape victim turned drug addict – would have felt too serious on his first album. But the overall loss of the sparkle of songs like Monster is a shame.

Luckily, the wit hasn’t totally been abandonded: the new album’s title track, At Your Inconvenience, a critique of the music industry, has some bite, despite the lolloping backing. He even makes that Travie McCoy/Bruno Mars shipwreck of smugness Billionaire listenable. But while the new album might end up defining his legacy, it’s the old stuff that currently gives him the most credit.

 

From Nightshift, December 2011

N-Dubz

O2 Academy, Oxford
20th July 2011

Reality TV stars, cultural icons and generational spokespeople N-Dubz, who have been around for a decade and churned out three albums, are surely too big for Oxford now. They’ve even got two dancers, slightly incongruous behind the main personalities. Tough-as-nails porcelain doll Tulisa needs to lay off gargling tar but skips her way around her vocal duties with nonchalance, in both crowd-pleasers like Strong Again and slower ones like Love Sick. Fazer (cheesiest line: “could all hands in the building report to the sky”) has got the best “swagger” and out-Tinchys Tinchy on their versions of Number One and Spaceship. And Dappy spends a lot of the gig waving around a hat – an over-ear style he claims he no longer wears – to whip up excitement for a chance to win a backstage audience with the band. Meanwhile, their surprisingly tight musicians blast out an unexpected 80s synth rock breakdown during one of the four (four!) costume change breaks. (My favourite costume is the Kryten-style body armour, incidentally.)

The Bay City Rollers ended up being glam “for the kids” – descended from something a lot more credible – and N-Dubz seem to have become “for the kids” too, making grime, one of the genres they fall into, more accessible and commercial, however preposterous a great proportion of the population might find them. Chances are they’ll eventually inspire more nostalgic ridicule than devotion (the self-referential lyrics might date badly, for one thing), but they’ve managed relative longevity for a band largely beloved of those of a tender age (“NDublets”), so who knows what way the national mood might swing after their impending eighteen-month hiatus.

Despite their notoriety, there’s still more charisma in one of Dappy’s hats than the entirety of Matt Cardle, and at least they’ve bothered to engage their audience and choreograph a show to suit. They’d no doubt be mortified if a certain demographic of the “haters” actually did like them; that’s not what they’re aiming for, and they’re doing very nicely at not achieving it.

 

From MusicInOxford.co.uk

East 17

O2 Academy, Oxford
2nd September 2011

As is customary these days, “edgy” 90s boyband East 17 have (yet again) reformed, though this time the gaffe-prone proto-Dappy, Brian Harvey, has been replaced by the requisitely tattooed and baseball capped Blair Dreelan. Songwriter and rapper Tony Mortimer is back, sometimes brandishing a guitar (sadly hard to hear in the mix). The other two, John Hendy and Terry Coldwell – who don’t seem to have aged – look delighted to still be there.

The poppier stuff like House of Love, It’s Alright, Let It Rain and the slightly risqué (if you were in your early teens at the time) Deep and Steam is still fun, but John and Terry – who do the occasional harmony and now stand in line with the others rather than dance behind them – still seem underused. In the slower, more R&B ones like Hold My Body Tight, Someone to Love, If You Ever and Around the World (which I’m sure didn’t use to sound so Lighthouse Family), Tony’s rapping seems lacklustre, but that could be due less to lack of effort and more because what worked in 1994 doesn’t work now.

Oddly, given the marketing opportunity, they only do one song from their imminent new album; if the rest of it is anything like the sub-Olly Murs Secret Of My Life, it’s probably just as well.

Tony’s songwriting is still impressive – Stay Another Day has outlived the output of most mid-90s boybands and remains one of the most memorable ballads of that decade – and he could surely still do a Gary Barlow and churn them out for X-Factor finalists. But for all the nostalgic excitement of the audience, it feels a little flat. Brian was the band’s Robbie and Mark in one, but Blair’s voice and banter seem to work so satisfactorily that it makes me wonder how necessary Brian was in the first place. Yet it still seems a bit pointless without him.

 

From Nightshift, October 2011

Sparkadia, A.Human and La Shark

The Jericho Tavern
24th February 2011

Sparkadia have played to thousands of people back home in Australia, so tonight’s sparse audience must be a bit of a shock. Luckily, they (well, he – the bequiffed Alex Burnett – and his touring band) fill the room anyway with their lush, epic guitar/synth pop. Talking Like I’m Falling Down Stairs is a Bowie-esque joy; Mary a beautifully heartfelt crescendo, China filled with great 80s power chords, and the cover of Kelis’s Acapella a stadium romp. The whole thing is a cinematic melodyfest, and I’ve totally fallen in love with it.

The crowd is still small for A.Human, but it doesn’t seem like much would stop A.Human having fun. There’s space to mingle, which brings the engaging sequin-jacketed singer, Dave Human, to the dancefloor for the whole gig. So now everyone in the room is dancing – on Dave’s orders – to the shaggy disco pop of songs like the insanely catchy Take Me Home.

La Shark, however, are extraordinary – mostly due to the presence of flamboyant and uninhibited singer Samuel Geronimo Deschamps. There are headstands, manic dancing and gradual disrobing – he gets down to his underpants by the third song. Then backflips, breakdancing and writhing around on the floor. And at one point, Dave Human is challenged to and loses a dance-off with a member of the audience. This would all just be silly were the music not so quirky – a sort of cosmic avant-garde funk pop, veering towards Muse-like levels of orchestration and pomp in Hotel Chevalier and 60s jangles in Modern Man, but never seemingly taking itself too seriously amongst the slap bass and dischords. The highlight is the angular, paranoia-laden I Know What You Did Last Summer, a double A-side with A.Human’s Take Me Home.

I haven’t had this much fun at a gig in ages. Brilliant.

 

From Nightshift, April 2011

Reviews

 

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