Sunday 30 April 2017

LIVE: Sofar Sounds Oxford house gig (24/4/17)

As my third (and final) year draws to a close I'll soon be saying goodbye to Oxford and moving back home (though I'm not sure I'll be able to stay away for long!) One of the things that I'll miss the most is the local Sofar Sounds, which I've been going to as a photographer/social media whizz on and off for the duration of my degree, meeting a bunch of incredible people in the crew and seeing lots of great music in unique spaces around Oxford along the way. Before university I was mad about the online Sofar sessions and remember being totally overwhelmed that they wanted me to come along and take photos. Volunteering over the years has made me realise just how lovely the whole Sofar family is, and I'd love to keep attending the shows closer to home, and maybe there's even demand for a Sofar Sounds Peterborough, who knows?! Anyway back to now, and last Monday I caught my final Sofar Oxford for a while as the two May shows clash with other gigs (part of the charm of the local scene is how much there is on offer!) 

The show took us back to the roots of Sofar in a cosy living room in an area of Oxford I hadn't been to before, and up first we had a lively and infectiously positive set from Prague/London based Lake Malawi, who supported the lovely Banfi guys a couple of days later in London. The set was complete with foot stomping, luckily the neighbours below didn't seem to mind! They released their single Surrounded By Light recently with a music video filmed in Cuba, check it out below... 

Next up a Winchester based duo who have been playing together since they were in school and 14, with influences including The Staves and First Aid Kit - not bad role models to aspire to! If I remember right, they said that they had only played one Sofar before back in Winchester, and the video online from that show is actually the track I remember most fondly from their set this week, entitled Tough Love, and it features some beautiful harmonies, take a listen if you enjoy the aforementioned female folksters.

Up next was singer-storyteller Gecko... a little browse on his Facebook page provides this quote from Huw Stephens,  'It made me instantly happy when I heard it', and I think that sums up his set pretty well as he had the audience in stitches for the duration with his clever and hilarious lyrics. A particularly comical and slightly ironic track was iPhone, therefore I am, taking the mick out of our widespread obsession with our mobile phones... ironic due to the fact I was looking after the Twitter and Facebook updates for the show. He's raising funds to record an album, it's reached 100% but you can still pledge at this link for signed CDs and all sorts of perks if you like what you hear below!

Our final set of the evening came from a singer, poet, playwright, activist, American and all round lovely human being, Amy León. Missing her band back in the States she treated us to some gutting and passionate a cappella tracks before inviting Gecko back to the stage to accompany her with some guitar while she improvised a couple of tracks, spurred on by the words retirement and passion, suggested by the audience. Here's a really powerful from Sofar London of a piece called This. 

I think that was my eighteenth Sofar Sounds Oxford show, and what a pleasure it's been to be involved over the last couple of years, I've just counted up and think I've seen nearly 80 performers between those shows. Long may Sofar continue to bring wonderful music to people in such a unique and beautiful way! 

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