Live Review: Sivu at London Oslo Hackney (‘Something on High’ album launch party) – 14th October 2014

By on Tuesday, 21st October 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

As you can imagine with me living in the States, I don’t have the opportunity too often to take advantage of London album launch party invitations. However, this past holiday of mine in the UK happily coincided with the week that Sivu’s fab debut album ‘Something on High’ was released on Atlantic Records just the day before, and timing worked perfectly for me to make the journey down to the big smoke from Liverpool to see him play at Oslo Hackney. (Read my review of the debut here; he’s currently on tour with Nick Mulvey and all the dated are listed here.)

For those of you familiar with London venues – of which there are many – the smaller ones that bands call with minimal adoration part of ‘the toilet circuit’ tend to be pretty grim. And smell of things that should not be mentioned by a lady. Oslo, located quite handily next to the Hackney Central Overground station, suffers no such problems, as it hasn’t been open all that long. As a music journo, it’s nice to go somewhere where I know if I drop my jumper on the floor, it won’t be all gross with god knows what when I pick it back up. (Unfortunately, this was not the case when a punter knocked into me on Saturday night at Manchester Soup Kitchen and my new Cloud Boat t-shirt – a white one – was an unfortunate victim of the venue’s grimy floor. Review of that show is forthcoming.)

As you will have read in my review of ‘Something on High’, my impression of Sivu’s music is that its alternative style has a unique way of relaying emotions and the oft poignancy of said feelings. So imagine my surprise when a completely bonkers – and surely heavily pissed – female super fan screamed and yelled her way through a set list that featured softer, more subdued numbers that the rest of us were trying to enjoy for their emotional quotient. At the encore, I can’t imagine James Page has had many fans this crazy at his shows; he tried to laugh it off, saying, “I didn’t know I was such a babe magnet!” Well James, if Hozier and your current tourmate Nick Mulvey are, maybe you are too. (I still don’t understand the ridiculous hype surrounding either and far prefer Sivu’s debut over Andrew’s.)

With its haunting vitriol, minor key tune ‘Love Lives in This House’ seemed like an odd choice to open a celebratory album launch night. However, things quickly picked up and the more upbeat previously released single ‘Bodies’ and LP starting point ‘Feel Something’. Sivu’s first-ever release ‘Better Man Than He’, most famous for its promo video filmed from within an MRI machine at St. Barts’ hospital in London, elicited a lovely crowd sing-along that made Page smile; he told it meant so much that we could share in the realisation of a dream of his from years ago.

Clearly the most fun song from the album, ‘Can’t Stop Now’, was just as fun live, providing punters an opportunity to shake a tail feather. ‘God Speaks in Tongues’, which does not appear on the new release but has been a firm favourite of Sivu’s long-time supporters, warmly received by this audience. However, for its ability to tug at the heartstrings, the most touching moment of the night had to go to the performance of ‘Sleep’ just prior to the encore, as Page alternated between his regular and falsetto voices in masterful delivery. I’m not sure how I managed not to cry, as its telling of suicide as the only option in the face of unrequited love is truly genuine, despite its conclusion painting an extreme image of desperation of a lover spurned. Love hurts. And Page has expertly grasped just how to express this beautifully in song.

After the cut: Sivu’s set list from the album launch.

Sivu’s Set List:
Love Lives in This House
Bodies
Feel Something
Better Man Than He
Communicate
Can’t Stop Now
Family Tree
God Speaks in Tongues
Miracle (Human Error)
Sleep
//
Departure

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