Oli Brown, with Dana Fuchs @ London O2 Academy Islington

Review by James Anthony Price
22nd April 2012

Photography by Sabrina Dersel
http://www.mademoisellesphotography.com/

For this time of year it was pretty wet and cold in the capital, so it was quite a relief to get inside the warm cosy environment of the 02 Academy (This was after a bit of confusion getting our photo-pass sorted out!).
There are two levels to this venue, a larger downstairs area and a more compact room upstairs, the latter is where we were based!
At first I thought it may be too small as it was smaller than the average wine bar, let alone a concert hall, but it actually suited the stripped down style of music that was performed.
Oli Brown.1
Staff were friendly and helpful and the crowd all seemed to be in good spirits too.
For myself; a man more used to Death Metal concerts, it felt like quite a relief to be the youngest man in the room!

Oli Brown
Oli Brown

 

Oli Brown
Oli Brown

An hour later than billed, support act Dana Fuchs took to the stage and it was obvious from the start that the audience were familiar with this American singer, songwriter, A nice feeling for her I am sure, as so often the supporting act know the crowd are just waiting for them to finish to get to the main event.

Dana Fuchs
Dana Fuchs

Dana only appeared on stage with one other musician Jon Diamond an established NYC guitarist who toured with Joan Osborne and Debbie Davies, he also played the Harmonica to give the basic sound a bit more flavour. It was an intense and passionate performance by this pair, so much so that Jon broke his guitar string on the first song “Love to Beg” but Dana didn’t let this stop her though as she performed “Don’t Let me Down”; a cappella (with a bit of help from the audience!)

Musically she is a combination of Rock, Soul, Gospel and Blues and she has been compared to Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger; nice company to be in, and she lives up to these legends with a Powerful and passionate display.

Dana Fuchs
Dana Fuchs

By the time we get to song 3 the guitar is fixed and we are back on track. Dana dedicates “Songbird (fly me to sleep) to her late sister and it is a slower ballad, played with delicacy and precision. We are treated to a couple more upbeat rock numbers, and then we finish on crowd suggested ballad “Misery” (Ironically Dana said she wanted to finish the set with “Sunshine”)

Sound quality was clear and loud, and I feel she fit the bill nicely as a supporting artist to Mr Brown. The crowd gave her a well deserved round of applause and seemed happy to hear the news that she will return and with a full band. at a date TBC.

Dana Fuchs
Dana Fuchs

Set list:
Love to Beg
Don’t let me down
Songbird (fly me to sleep)
Bible Baby
Keepsake
Misery

Dana Fuchs
Dana Fuchs

After a very short interlude (ah good old blues, not much equipment to sort out) Young British blues singer-songwriter Oli Brown Hits the stage to an excited audience.
Looking fresh faced (and so he should the lucky bugger is only 22!) and smart in a silver grey suit he wastes no time in getting to work.
Described by Mojo as “The hottest young pistol in British Blues,” he plays with real energy and technical prowess, strong vocals and amazing guitar work, this genre may usually be played by guys 3 times his age but Oli here shows how a bit of youthful energy can really enhance this sometimes stale and tired genre of music. He doesn’t engage in too much banter and doesn’t seem to have more than a 5 second gap between songs, he really lets the music do the talking, which is after all why we are here.
Although he does stop for a minute or two to introduce his band; we have Wayne Proctor on drums and Scott Barnes on Bass. These guys did a great job of supporting Oli! They provided a nice backbone of rhythm, to enhance his vocal and guitar work. Oli has 2 albums currently out and a new one “Here I Am” due out on the 23rd of April, and he played a mix of all of these albums, the new songs blending perfectly with his older material, whilst pushing his sound forward and the crowd seemed to be as happy hearing the new as the old. Brown is not a blues purist, more of a singer-songwriter with a blues-rock twist and as a beginner to this sort of genre I have to say he won this old metal head over!

Sound quality again was great, loud but not too loud, every section of the band could be heard with great clarity. This is the upside of a smaller venue, there is nowhere for the sound to escape to, so in summary: strong powerful, soulful vocals, great guitar solos, youth, energy and fun! There is nothing here not to like.

This gig left me with a smile on my face…It didn’t make me feel blue! (Sorry I couldn’t resist).

Dana Fuchs
Dana Fuchs

Set list:
Here I Am,
Mr Wilson,Devil In Me,
Solid Ground,
I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know,
On Top Of The World,
Evil Soul,Speechless,
No Diggity,
Keeping My options open,
Start It Again,
Thinking About Her,
Manic Bloom,
Remedy

 

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