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Live Review: MGMT @ Oxford Academy / 21st August ’08

 
By on Monday, 25th August 2008 at 7:41 pm
 

This post appeared originally on the brilliant Four Oh Five, and is one in our continuing series of guest blogs from their capable team of authors.

Last night’s Reading Fest warm-up show was probably the last chance anybody here in England will have had to see MGMT in a relatively small venue before they return in November for a full tour, and my God was it worth the trek. Oxford’s recently converted and renovated Carling Academy is on nothing like the scale of their other venues (Brixton etc.), and the benefits of brand new sound and technical equipment are incredible. I only found out about this show at the last minute, and after getting exam results yesterday morning, I am definitely glad I made the effort.

I had total faith that MGMT’s performance would be impressive to say the least, but one thing I was slightly speculative about before the show was how exactly they were going to fill a full set with just one forty-minute album. Their lack of material was easily noticeable during the gig but they covered it well – not just playing but performing the entire album with an epic blend of instrumentals, along with two or three new songs towards the end, and a collaboration with the tremendously dreadful support band (I still don’t know what they were called because they were too drunk to remember to tell us..).

I thought I’d seen some bad warm-up acts before, and I’m usually pretty difficult to please unless I’m already a fan, but these guys were the crème de la crème of shittiness – I would have been less surprised to hear that they’d been dragged from the streets ten minutes in advance than that they’d actually been CHOSEN by somebody purposefully. Think homeless alcoholic tramps mixed with wannabe-rockstar dads and you’re about there. Still, they made MGMT seem even better.

It was nice to see MGMT look so thrilled at the reception they were getting from the crowd, which was made up of an unusual concoction of fans, from fourteen year-olds to forty-somethings, but they worked hard for it and easily deserved it. It was nice to see a band play around with their music for once, rather than just playing it exactly how it was recorded, and this really proved that MGMT are real musicians who know how to make music. And my oh my did they make it well – this show was explosive!

Both photos are taken from Pupkin’s flickr stream under the creative commons license. The top one can be found here and the side one here.

 

Live Review: Royworld at Oxford Zodiac 4th May 2008

 
By on Monday, 5th May 2008 at 2:08 pm
 

Royworld @ The Oxford ZodiacA half –full Zodiac at the Oxford Academy played host to up-and-comers Royworld last night as they embark on their debut full UK tour ahead of their album release next month.

Support came in the form of Oxford based band Cand Electric who were obviously nervous, having clearly just landed the biggest gig of their lives. Perfectly competent, they just lacked any oomph – they could play, but no personality or songs that grab you by the neck and say “LISTEN TO ME”. Quickly followed up by The Rushes who were much more capable of the supporting roll, dispatching hecklers with one-line put downs, and having tunes that with a bit of tweaking may get a couple of plays on late night XFM.

However, 9:15 and the main event soon rolled around, and Royworld unassumingly took to the stage. Opening up with recent single Elasticity they hammered their way through 45 minutes of material from their upcoming debut album. Usually, throwing in their new single and their old single in the first three songs would be a recipe for people walking out, having heard what they wanted. However, not tonight. Oh no. As the four of them get into their stride a bit more, it became clear that their singles are just the beginning of the road for these lads..

Smoke machines and extensive strobe lights gave the night a feel of a (slightly dodgy) 80’s pop video, however this more than complimented their rather unique brand of music – a sense of yearning for times gone by is immediately made clear, listening to their lyrics.

“Man in the Machine” was the last of the trio of songs that most of the audience had wanted to hear, before they closed with the duo of songs of “Tinman” and “Brakes”, showing off that Royworld are no one-trick ponies.

After the jump: Photos

Continue reading Live Review: Royworld at Oxford Zodiac 4th May 2008

 

Live: Palladium + Alphabeat @ Oxford Carling Academy Zodiac 28th January 2008

 
By on Tuesday, 29th January 2008 at 12:08 am
 

Palladium @ Oxford Academy ZodiacSometimes when you go and see a band you have the mis/fortune of seeing a support act who are actually just as good as the band you’ve paid out to see – tonight at Oxford’s Carling Academy was just that, when Alphabeat eclipsed Palladium‘s headlining set.

My first night back at the Carling Academy since its costly refurb, I was impressed at just how nice it had turned out – no more whiffs of the loo if you’re near the front of the stage. Still, the nicer surroundings didn’t help the first band up sound any better, The Anydays. Sounding like a reasonably competent Battle of the Bands winner, they were reasonably strong, however had a sensation of going through the motions, and frankly, not that memorable.

Next up were a band I’d been waiting to see for a considerable length of time, Alphabeat. The Danes who I profiled at the weekend didn’t disappoint, putting in a fine showing, even though the crowd was rather meagre. Performing as if their lives depended on it, what they lacked in words they more than made up for with their enthusiasm. Rattling through the majority of their self-titled debut album, they managed to get everyone humming along, even the drunk guy behind me conceeded at the end that “they’re pretty f***ing good”. Indeed they were Rory, indeed they were.

Finally came the big moment, Palladium. I’d previously seen them support the Thrills last summer, and had a series of brilliant songs, which still are brilliant. However, the rest of their album material does sound very much like filler to go between such pop-greats as “High 5”, “Happy Hour” and “White Woman”. Peter Pepper was distinctly untalkative, and the rest of the band seemed a bit hurt at the low attendance, but if we’re honest, it’s a Monday night in January – is it really going to be packed? Ending with a new song wasn’t their brightest idea, instead penultimate “Happy Hour” was my personal highlight, and one that almost got the whole crowd going. Well, some people take some warming up, others were so drunk they danced all the way through.

They’re certainly ones to watch, but after tonight Alphabeat are a better bet for me.

After the jump: More photos.

Continue reading Live: Palladium + Alphabeat @ Oxford Carling Academy Zodiac 28th January 2008

 

Supergrass / One off Oxford show

 
By on Thursday, 19th July 2007 at 12:17 am
 

SupergrassOxford lads Supergrass have been announced as playing a special one-off home town gig to help launch the shiny new Oxford Academy, formerly the Oxford Zodiac.

One of my favourite venues, the zodiac was what every venue should be – dark, dingy, sticky floored and in a questionable location. For all of its faults you couldn’t help but love it. Since it was bought by AMG earlier this year they have announced a complete overhaul with an increase to 1,350 total capacity for the whole venue, which means some bigger bands will be coming its way. There’s an interesting debate about it over on Drowned in Sound.

Tickets for Supergrass’ show go on sale on Monday (22nd July) at 11am, and more shows are to be announced shortly.

Photo of Supergrass taken from Groovehouse’ flickr stream.

 

Live: Delays – Oxford’s Zodiac – 19th December 2006

 
By on Wednesday, 20th December 2006 at 7:13 pm
 

Along with the Christmas party, another British institution of late appears to be the trend of bands doing a special one-off Christmas show in their hometown. This is the case with Southampton’s Delays, who played Oxford’s tiny Zodiac on Tuesday ahead of their hometown gig at Southampton’s Guildhall on Wednesday.

Their epic, summery songs are the perfect antidote to the freezing temperatures outside, adding some warmth to the audience. After a short intense set by Oxford based Fell City Girl for support, Delays walked on stage and burst right into “Lost in a Melody”, an electronic tinged stomper that is equally at home in the fields of festivals and the caverns of clubs. With this, Aaron, Greg, Colin and Rowly ran headlong into about 20 songs of pure quality that could convert even the most hardened of sceptics.

“On” has reminded me of Hot Chip’s “Over and Over” for a while now, with its catchy repetitiveness, and rather nice use of the strobes in the tiny Zodiac made for an entrancing song. “Bedroom Scene” was a chance for three quarters of Delays to take a break, as they left Greg to do the gentle strum with a lone light and a mass sing-along that didn’t quite work. The rest of Delays returned for new song “Girls on Fire”, which is tipped to be on their new album that’s going to be out next Summer reportedly, and if all goes to plan should set the festival scene on fire.

They closed their main set with “Long Time Coming” from their debut “Faded Seaside Glamour”, and Greg’s masterful footwork and over-excitability clearly made several girls at the front’s day. This was the song that got everybody going, having shaken off the winter blues and finally embraced the warmth they were giving off to the crowd.

When they came back for an encore we got a special version of “White Christmas” with Greg solo on his guitar, which was sublime and made my evening. We then got treated to two of Delays best songs from their last album, “Hideaway” and “Valentine”, both pop-classics in the making, and both failed to make much entry into the public’s mind.

Sometimes bands just don’t make as much impact into the public’s consciousness as they should, and Delays appear to have this misfortune. However, whilst this is the case they’ll continue to play small shows of people “in the know”.

 
 
 

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