Sandi Thom @ Oxford o2 Academy – 05/04/11

Miriam Jones recent album Fire-Lives has rarely left my ipod playlist since its release, so I was keen to catch her on a bigger stage. Oxford based solo artist from North America combining the best bits of Sheryl Crow and Lou Rhodes. This time as an acoustic three piece with additional guitar and bass and some rich live vocal harmonies.

A nervous start, soon built confidence towards songs like ‘Rhythm Out’ with catchy lines “I don’t need you I’ll be fine I’ve got my rhythm”. Later songs also including ‘Routine Runaway’, sounded full bodied in their new venue. It was a little strange to hear a Christmas tune in April, and ending the set with ‘Wondrous, Mysterious’, possibly confused the Sandi Thom fans no end! But a good opening from an up and coming act well worth checking out, it would have been nice to hear a longer set!

I didn’t have a preconception on Sandi Thom, apart from her wanting to be a punk rocker with flowers in her hair, but her Scottish folky sound for much of her set felt unfortunately like a dead howdown. There were six talented players in her band and if it had been in a smaller venue, or if it wasn’t “one of the wee-er crowds on her tour” as she quaintly put it, then I think it would have been more enjoyable. But it did seem like watching a practice session in London, and it was hard to draw much from the music as a consequence.

Highlights were local 12-year-old guitarist, Aaron Keylock, playing blues licks as a special guest, a well covered classic of ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ which did provoke a bit of sing along interaction, and a beautiful accapella duet encore, ‘Ghost Town’ which ironically summarized my feelings for the show. A heartfelt gratitude though from Sandi for the support and hopeful wishes of next time Oxford coming out it force to see her… hopefully when she does return they don’t have such a long gap between the acts, especially if the beer is so expensive that no one buys it to take up the time!