Category Archives: 2019

Tears for Fears

Nocturne Live, Blenheim Palace
22th June 2019

Tears for Fears have a history with Blenheim Palace. Roland Orzabal explains that they once did a live broadcast from here to Japan after playing four nights at Hammersmith Odeon. This was presumably a double dollop of Britishness for the Japanese, though the duo – as their name suggests – managed to translate their more international influences of Arthur Janov and existentialism into chart success. In fact, in tonight’s show – part of the Nocturne Live concert series – the duo prove that their status in British pop music’s heritage is befitting of the beautiful surroundings. Their most well-known hits – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, “Mad World”, “Change” and “Shout” – are tonight welcomed by a respectful but enthusiastic audience, with the heavy cold-afflicted Curt Smith’s voice is still distinctively clear.

It’s not simply a stick-the-greatest-hits-on-and-play-long performance. Their cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” – appropriate given the locale, but actually currently a mainstay of their live show – is menacing in a way their other songs aren’t, not reaching a crescendo or really ever giving in to its fury. A few songs have different formats to their original counterparts: “Head over Heels” is the medley version with “Broken” from Songs from the Big Chair, and “Secret World”, from the charmingly titled post-reformation album Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (Roland and Curt having parted ways after The Seeds of Love), is somewhat bizarrely punctuated by snippets of Wings’ “Let ‘Em In” (more recently known from the Postcode Lottery advert). “Woman in Chains” has an abstract funk intro, with the Oleta Adams slot filled by Carina Round, who complements Roland’s vocals in a different but no lesser way than the deeper-voiced Oleta did.

The sprawling “Badman’s Song” might have fitted in on the famously troubled epic jazz/blues jumble that was The Seeds of Love, but it feels self-indulgent tonight; they can be forgiven though, given the strength of their back catalogue, and the fact that they’re still here, together and smiling.


From Nightshift, August 2019

Tiger Mendoza – New Ideas album

Released 21st April 2019

Described by Tiger Mendoza’s Ian De Quadros as “A remix album. Of sorts”, New Ideas takes the collaborations forged across previous EPs – 2017’s “Old Ideas 1” and 2018’s “Old Ideas 2” – and explores a kind of reciprocal collaboration alongside two new tracks.

There are four versions of the originally grungy hip-hop “Maverick Souls” from “Old Ideas 2”; Asher Dust’s earnest vocals get a variety of interpretations, the most striking of which is the swift two-minute remix by Didcot’s hardcore punkers Worry, who cover it with a wall of frantic sampling and noise.

The remix by Carterton’s Dan Clear of “Missing You” – with vocals from Lucy Vee and rapper Half Decent – becomes an even more blissed-out stark juxtaposition of choppy rap and the ethereal, while “Jazzer” is transformed by REELS from what Nightshift originally described as a “hypnotic afro-hop babble” into a starker, more frantic house number, and by Breezewax into a slower and surprisingly even more hypnotic piece that gives the beautiful the acoustic guitar and orchestral backing of the original more prominence.

New track “Find You” has vocals from Kate Herridge from Reading’s Ocean Ruins; her shaky “Am I not enough?” refrain loops over heavy beats and reverbed synths – and eventually crunchy guitars – to create a mesmerising whole; the other new track, “Perish The Thought”, which will feature on Asher Dust’s upcoming final album, is an off-kilter hip-hop meld of seemingly detuned guitars and Asher’s trademark paradoxically menacing yet comforting vibrato voice.

The sheer variety of approaches explored justifies the rationale of giving a track of one genre to a musician from another and seeing what they come up with. The album is therefore well worth exploring, especially since the profits from the release will go to The Oxford Foodbank. Above all, however, New Ideas is a fresh testament to the cohesion of and bonhomie between the Oxford music scene at a time when such harmony and unity is sorely and sadly needed.

From Nightshift, April 2019

Low Island – In Person single

Released 31st January 2019

Low Island have been banging out interesting electronica for a while now. A repeating melody and busy ostinato bassline (think a more frantic Talk Talk’s “Life’s What You Make It”) makes “In Person”, the latest instalment, perhaps more commercially accessible than their other, more atmospheric and disorientating electro-pop stuff; saying that, the way it builds on this repetition – initial bare voice and bass, to which their now trademark double-track octave vocals and plinky synth chords are introduced, only to drop out periodically before the fraught electro-jam climax – is still unsettling. The whole thing exudes Friendly Fires-esque nonchalance, but controlled rather than extravagant. The lyrical argument about people feeling decreasingly connected to each other in a world of increasing digital connectedness is emphasised by the tension between the retro analogue-sounding synthesisers and modern production techniques; somewhere between the advent of popular electronic music and now, bonds have been loosened and relationships skewed.

If Low Island’s output continues in this poppier vein, they might find themselves reaching Years & Years-type heights, though their back catalogue suggests a formulaic path is unlikely. Whichever way they’re producing all this lovely stuff, they must keep it up.

From Nightshift, March 2019


Low Island – The Jericho Tavern, Oxford – 3rd September 2021

Tears for Fears – Nocturne Live, Blenheim Palace – 26th June 2019

Tiger Mendoza – New Ideas album – April 2019

Low Island – In Person single – February 2019

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