Slow Readers Club at O2 Oxford Academy (upstairs) 24.9.2022 with Klangstof supporting
I have written before in these blogs about Manchester’s Slow Readers Club, so more on how this recently rising band have got here, with me watching and listening, is here in my Slow Readers Club live in Southsea blog. This my sixth time seeing them, four times previously in Southsea and once in Glasgow.
The trip to an Oxford venue is a bit more novel though. [This trip is with gig buddies Dave and Ann, wife Sally (big Readers fan) and we catch up with ‘local’ Paul who we met at Glastonbury this Summer.]
After an afternoon punt on the river (!), a wander around and through excited graduating students, and a pint in the secluded Turf Tavern courtyard – a boozer visited by Prime Ministers, non-inhaling Presidents and Oscar Wilde – we head up Cowley Road to find the O2 Academy.
Some careful research (cheers Ann) leads us to The Oxford Blue pub, just off a side road right at the lower end of the Cowley Road. We are greeted by a beautiful black Labrador at the door, while a sleeping Lurcher guards the kitchen. Lovely woody pub with some tasty DNA golden ale and an interesting food selection that we get involved in. I had to try both types of pickled eggs for a starter. Beautifully presented – much better than my last experience from a jar on the counter of the Prince of Wales in Moseley, Brum.
We head on up the bustling Cowley Road for the O2’s early start: doors at 6pm with a 10pm curfew, before the kids’ club shift kicks in. I was surprised to see Frank Turner was playing in the same venue but downstairs. We are ushered upstairs, having mastered the O2 App ticketing finally…and we have enough phone reception to show someone.
I have been here before but only a couple of times: for an emerging Elbow about 20 years ago and in the last 10 to see Echo and The Bunnymen. These were downstairs I’m sure and 20 years ago it was the Oxford Zodiac.
The frontage of the O2 just blends into the high street shops – it would be easy to drive by without noticing it. Inside there is a main room with a 1050 capacity and where we are, upstairs, is a square room, 436 capacity, with a rear left side well-staffed bar. There are some seats to the rear behind a wall but you couldn’t see a band from there – the merch is there in the gloom. We opt for some mixing desk rail leaning, handily placed for the bar, which has an inflatable blue shark over it. Best ale option is the Shipyard Pale – but no, later I found they had a stash of bottled Hobgoblin in the fridges.
So it’s all pretty small scale for an O2 Academy but I like it. I am staggered by the size of the audience; no not that it was so full but it was the ‘land of the giants’. An unrepresentative sample of tall men rise up in front of us. I wondered if the floor sloped backward or maybe the giants were thoughtfully keeping to the rear. A good crowd though. A friendly well-behaved crowd and a crowd who knew Slow Readers Club and had some voices.
Tonight’s support are Dutch indie band Klangstof. A trio lost in their sound which I shall describe as experimental. A short set with nothing to grab me. I had to look them up afterwards as I saw or heard no clues as to who they were when they were on stage.
The place is quickly bouncing when the Slow Readers Club start, with Yet Again, a catchy one from the most recent album 91 Days in Isolation.
The sound is good here and front man Aaron Starkie’s vocals are really clear – great range, with him crouching low on the bassy bits. He offers the room the mic to encourage the crowd to join in – not much encouragement needed. It shows how much they have come on now that the whole audience can pump out the words with him on a lot of the songs.
Plant the Seed is an early favourite which I captured on a phone clip, here on my YouTube channel.
The vocals are so well controlled and a real feel that it leads all the instruments – no chance of getting lost in guitars. It cranks up nicely with the crowd wrapped up in it – here to watch, listen and sing, not just another night out. Enthusiasts. This is still a relatively unknown band with little national radio play. They already have a great discography to pick from. The main set concludes with On the TV and I Saw a Ghost. Two crackers, but there’s more in the tank.
Another four songs when they return with Block Out the Sun with Lunatic (have listen to the official video on YouTube) to end another thoroughly satisfying night out with The Slow Readers Club.
Better photos in my Slow Readers Club live in Southsea – I just had my phone out tonight.