Sometimes with a band as quirky and fun as We Are Scientists they run out of energy after their first album. However, like a fine wine, our favourite Scientists seem to have gotten only better with age.
Playing to a sold out sweltering O2 Academy in Oxford they were the perfect end to a rather strange week for me and were on absolute top form. Opening up was The Whigs, who seemed to have Animal from The Muppets as their drummer, and certainly warmed up the roasting crowd with their garage rock.
Chew Lips seemed on paper to be a rather bizarre choice of opener – electro dance pop vs WAS’ rock, but they went down a treat, lead singer Tigs clearly having a ball. Keith made a quick cameo to throw ice cubes during “Solo”, and certainly affirmed the Friday night party feeling.
Surprisingly quickly 9:20 rolled around and on jogged Keith Murray and Chris Cain, the duo we know better as We Are Scientists. Their new stuff from “Barbara” mixed perfectly with their older classics and by the end of the set the whole crowd
The between song banter was as hilarious as ever – what should have been a 70 minute set turned into a 100 minute epic thanks to discussions about the Styrofoam head that was thrown on stage in the first song (sans ears and nose rather bizarrely), the request to have a hot chocolate mid set (“’cos we like to break the rules and be pioneers…”), and pawning babies for The Whigs’ CD. Yes, it really was that surreal.
Older anthems such as “The Great Escape” and “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt” got the best reception (as you’d expect), but the newer stuff got some pretty impressive sing-alongs going too. The majority of the material came from latest effort “Barbara” and breakthrough “With Love and Squalor”, less from “Brain Thrust Mastery”.
The one slow(ish) moment of the set, new one “Pittsburgh” with roars of “All we want is to be together / all we want is to sleep together” echoing around the sweaty Academy – possibly one of the strongest songs on the new album that won’t be a single.
We collectively managed to confuse the Scientists with a chant of “118” (regarding their drummer who looked suspiciously like the adverts’ moustachioed stars), but like professional comedians they dealt with the chanting with typical aplomb, joking that we were “talking in code”.
Can’t Win closed the main set, culminating with Chris being dragged off by his feet by Keith, before they did the obligatory encore. Commenting that Oxford’s Zodiac was the scene of their first ever UK show (supporting Editors, in what is now the O2 Academy 2), they seemed kind of amazed at the support the sold out Academy gave them.
Closing off the encore with “After Hours” and joined by The Whigs and Chew Lips, it was clear that they’d had a massive ball on this tour – what a modern day rock tour should be – great tunes, dancing, amazing sing-alongs and all-round comedy. Brilliant.