Alphabet Backwards - Gig review
Posted by Guest Writer on Thu, 03 Feb 2011.
Oddly preceded by a self-indulgent metal band, Alphabet Backwards were my first live gig of the new year, and what a lovely gig it was. Mis-matched support act aside, Alphabet Backwards reminded me that music now doesn’t always have to be about looking moody behind a guitar or how many followers you’ve got on Twitter – it can actually be quite fun.
Without so much as a ‘HELLO OXFORD’, the band launched straight into ‘80s Pop Video’, turning a previously unresponsive crowd into a buzzing excited rabble. Right form the off there was an inescapable sense of energy from the band on stage, impossible for the sober to ignore and the drunk not to dance to.
Introducing themselves to much applause, the band moved on to ‘Christopher’, a song poking fun at hipsters. Which is always going to be amusing. Singing about ‘wannabe hipsters’, it’s nice to see a band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. Obviously they’re very serious about what they do, but to find a band that’s still gleefully making pop songs and not caring for the arguably sometimes superfluous lyrics (‘let’s go to Primark, Primark, Primark, Primark’ for example), or how they’ll be perceived by some jumped-up music journalist (hello), is really quite refreshing.
Lead-singer James is a curious frontman. Fantastically upbeat and in his element, he reminded me a bit of a cross between a six-year-old boy and a Greenpeace campaigner and has a voice that’s seemingly made to be heard through a microphone. Entertaining us with a story of a banana fox in the interlude whilst he fixed the gaffer tape on his guitar, I wonder if maybe he’s a misunderstood genius. Or possibly slightly unhinged.
‘Blink of an Eye’ was a highlight. A touch faster than the recorded versions, there was a feeling of increasing pace and urgency that carried the song and bounced it round the room. Ending with ‘Elton John’, a romantic camp indie pop track, James and Steph capered around the stage and managed to whip the rabble-crowd up into a flat-out mob, chanting ‘we want more’ until the group reformed for their encore, ‘Ambulance’.
It wasn’t a life-changing gig, but then it didn’t pretend to be. Alphabet Backwards have an intriguing knack of imploring controlled excitement – getting the enthusiasm across without getting caught up and tangled in their own pace. A humble band giving an honest and gleeful performance without trying to be something they’re not. What a joyous way to spend a Friday night.
By Rosie Macleod