Last Friday (yes, I am still trying to catch up here…) was my first time at The Jericho in Oxford. I had been meant to go there earlier this year to see John Wesley, but work got in the way – and now I have seen what an intimate venue it is I am even more annoyed about that. There were 4 bands on the bill tonight, and while I was there to see The Pineapple Thief, it turned into a night of riches !
First up were Seven O’clock Junkies, a light melodic indie guitar sound which got some people (well, women…and there have been suggestions they were drunk) up and dancing (well, you might call it dancing…). The vocalist had a cold but it did not affect his performance and overall I enjoyed them – only found out afterwards that they have a cd available, or I would have bought it then. Strong, intelligent songwriting, very well played. An excellent start to the evening.
The place was beginning to fill a bit when Brassneck came on. Another guitar based indie sound, but more of a harder edge than with Seven O’clock Junkies, and with an acoustic set because their drummer had needed 16 stitches in his finger earlier in the day. Some wonderful female vocals from Kat Milner, and I really enjoyed the inclusion of her violin in their sound. Some parts reminded me of the Waterboys and early U2, even though they do not list either band within their influences. Again, there was some excellent songwriting in performance here, and I’m not going to hold Kat’s blog of the evening against her, but I hope she gets to see The Pineapple Thief again when she is not overtired. They had a free cd available in return for being added to their mailing list, which seemed like an excellent exchange for me and I have enjoyed listening to the cd since – and will definitely be trying to catch their full electric performance as soon as possible.
Lightbox are the more pop side of the current indie sound. They played a cover of Razorlight’s Golden Touch, and a lot of their sound is along those lines. I am not a fan of Razorlight, but I did enjoy Lightbox’s set, which was full of enthusiasm, had a good sound to it, and an enjoyable frontman who had some good interaction with the crowd – which had now built so it was close up to the stage. They also had a free cd available (same terms and conditions apply), but also have one to purchase which I did not know about at the time, or again I would have bought it – so they must have been good, especially as their set included a version of Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl !
And the evening was nicely set up for one of my favourite bands. The Pineapple Thief’s Tightly Wound album may well be my album of the year for 2008 (they can blame the Steven Wilson solo release for their even being any competition…), and I had really enjoyed their set at The Peel earlier this year. I normally stand to the side or near the back at a gig, but I was front row stage right for this one, which gave a different perspective…and also access to the setlist (and my song names in this blog come directly from that set list) ! They had not played this venue before, although Keith Harrison on drums said he had about 20 years ago, with Bruce Soord suggesting that would be impossible because that would mean his current age would go totally against their marketing image…and so the tone for a wonderfully relaxed performance was set. Shoot First had a funky, raw sound to it, though part of that may have been unintentional because of a guitar problem causing a loss of sound ! Tightly Wound had some thumping bass and an incredible ‘noise’ to it. The slower Boxing Day took us into the more percussive God Bless The Bruce, and the first evidence that Bruce had not fully aclimatised to the dimensions of the stage as he almost backed into Jon Sykes on bass. Sinners produced an excellent solo which seemed to live on the edge of feedback, before a totally bombastic climax. Different World saw more use of controlled feedback and it was a joy to experience, both in terms of the sound, and watching Bruce from so close up. So Say and Snow Drops took us to Too Much To Lose and the use of a pint glass as a slide, some atmospheric, dramatic almost space-rock sounds, a brilliant end to a very tight set. And then, to quote the set list ” encore (like we’ll ever get one ever again) : Vapour Trails* *i mean light up” – and at least one member of the band will be very pleased that it was I Will Light Up Your Eyes which they encored with…while some guy next to me was on his mobile !!! Some wonderful harmonica from Jon, and finally the dimensions of the stage caught Bruce out as he backed into the drum kit. A brilliant set, and the mention of a 2-cd compilation of the back catalogue coming out in March. Can’t wait to see them again at The Peel in the new year.