Wild Beasts @ O2 Academy Oxford – 11/11/11

Sometimes I question whether I actually like music. I assume I do; I’m quite enjoying side one of Heroes as I write. But, for a band that I particularly enjoy, Wild Beasts disappointed to the extent to which I am left with no choice but to consider myself void of musical preference or taste. Defected, if you will. A husk. Where BRAIDS, the support, seemed so exciting a build up; a brilliant Cocteau Twins meets Kate Bush cacophony, Wild Beasts set was a letdown considering their wealth of excellent material and the palpable sense of anticipation amongst the crowd.  I welcome any thoughts, contest or disagreement from anyone who was there, but for me, the set lacked.

BRAIDS @ O2 Academy Oxford - 11/11/11

Not that it was particularly Hayden Thorpe and co’s fault. Personally, I’ve never seen a good live set at the dank, gimmicky, regrettable venue that is the O2; despite the building’s formidable history. Generally the only you way you can tell what song’s playing is via the drunken bark-along of Harry from Cheney student village and his co-pricks who apparently “love this tune”. The subtly of Wild Beasts’ act was lost in the ether; the honed intricacies of the guitars and keys sounding muffled and messy; the lyrics indistinguishable: a venue for intelligent, understated guitar lines and souring falsetto this is not.

Wild Beasts @ O2 Academy Oxford - 11/11/11

Set wise, Wild Beasts drew largely from their excellent, Mercury Prize nominated Smother, with tracks such as ‘Lions Share’ and ‘Albatross’ standing out memorably despite the sound. A few highly enjoyable Two Dancers classics were present, ‘Hooting and Howling’, ‘All the Kings Men’ et al, but for myself, I would have loved a bit of Limbo, Panto era material; I had imagined wild and ecstatic scenes of jubilation dancing to ‘Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants’. A sea of people arm in arm, blinded by theirs’ and their comrades’ tears of delight and nostalgia during ‘Cheerio Chaps, Cheerio Goodbye’. It was going to be off the chain.

Wild Beasts @ O2 Academy Oxford - 11/11/11

The most irritating thing is that it yet another excellent band has been hampered and tarnished by that now appalling corporate shit hole, and due to the obligatory O2 academy headline tour that bands understandably have to embark upon, we haven’t got a lot of options in Oxford when it comes to big-but-not-massive bands.  In an ideal world we could leave the O2 to tribute bands, Fuzzy Ducks and indie discos which play Feeder tracks and ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ at the end, but we can’t; such is the world. Next on the O2’s list of bands’ reputation to tarnish and fans’ to irritate: Wire. A similar review will be published shortly thereafter.

Photography by Tom Johnson.