Monday 7 March 2016

LIVE: Sofar Sounds at The Jam Factory (6/3/16)

With a really gig heavy February, and April looking like it could be quite busy (Tigmus have a lot of Oxford shows coming up in April), March is seeming pretty empty, with just a couple of shows lined up. I almost didn't go to a gig last week.... almost! Luckily Sofar Sounds Oxford managed to squeeze me into their show at The Jam Factory last night, with artists Oceans, The Bloom Twins, Benedict Benjamin, Jali Fily Cissohko, and Moulettes. I live-tweeted the night over on the Oxford Sofar Twitter, and it was the first Sofar I've been to where I haven't been taking photos, so slightly less stress involved...

I haven't been to the venue before but it provided a really nice intimate setting perfect for a Sofar show. First up was Oceans, originally from Finland, providing us with some experimental electronic pop to wake us up and kick off the evening nicely. It was clear he was being totally genuine in his gratitude that people were sitting and listening attentively as he was shaking during the performance - some tracks are over on his Soundcloud here, listening to him while I write this and really enjoying - particularly his Jack Garratt remix.

Carrying on the European trend... next up were Ukrainian act The Bloom Twins, fresh from arena shows supporting Duran Duran they took to the intimate confines of our Sofar Sounds show perfectly. Once I'd got over the fact that they were identical twins, I loved their harmonies, and a particular highlight of the set was a slowed down Beyonc√© Crazy In Love cover (you heard right!)

The Bloom Twins
Next up, third act of the evening and the first guitar of the night... Benedict Benjamin, who played a Sofar in Oxford just over a year ago and I was glad to get to see play again. You could hear a pin drop through his performance, there's a beautiful tone and a vulnerability to his voice - someone came to speak to him after his set and described it as 'controlled', a good word choice I reckon. He played tracks from his upcoming album Night Songs, set to be released on 25th March (with a launch show at The Islington in London on 30th March - ticket and CD bundle here) - he had copies with him so I became the first person to buy a copy, just finished my first listen and loved it! Definitely watch out for it later in the month... 

Benedict Benjamin
Travelling continents, next up we had Jali Fily Cissohko, playing the Kora, an African 21-string harp. The whole crowd were mesmerised and I loved the clap-along for the last track, but spent most of the set wondering just how difficult it must be to play the kora! 

Jali Fily Cissohko
Last but by no means least and really brightening up our Sunday evening were Moulettes. Having not played a show since December they admitted to being a little rusty - I'd like to see what they're like on top form as I loved their set! Playing some new tracks for the first time, they described the concept of their latest album (quote taken from their site), "a record about the phenomenal creatures that inhabit the earth". They're playing a Tigmus gig in Oxford at The Cellar in April, tix here, that's part of a UK tour, full dates, and info about pre-ordering their fourth record is on their site here.

All in all - very glad I could get along to the show and excited to hear who's playing the next one which is tonight, as they've got two very intimate shows this month - I'll be in London seeing play The Maids tonight but interested to see what went down. It was also great to see Merlin Porter at the show, an artist based in Oxford, who actually has an exhibition at the venue running until today, who paints at shows. As a photographer, it's incredible to see Merlin's work coming to life so quickly during a short Sofar set. Give his Facebook page a like here to see more of his work.

Merlin Porter's artwork

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