Wolf Gang @ O2 Academy Oxford – 17/06/11

Some pop artists get to do national tours because of merit, some pop artists get to do national tours because of their looks, and some get to do national tours because they got the hype wave at SXSW. Wolf Gang, by day goes by Max McElligott an LSE graduate who on recordings plays every layered part himself, but come tonight’s performance he is accompanied by four other musicians. Before that though there are two support acts in the form of Foreign Office and local boy Pet Moon.

Pet Moon is the moniker for the new electronic sounds coming from former Youthmovies frontman Andrew Mears. As yet to release any recordings this performance is a view into the exciting things to come. Powered by heavy bass kicks, glitchy percussion swirling synths and effected guitar lines, Mears free from the yoke of his own guitar is given space to explore his voice, that as it delicately soars you realise is almost unrecognisable from its previous incarnation, but is no less beautiful for this progression.

Next up is Foreign Office, a four piece from London who seem hell bent on bring the sound of Roxy Music and the like, to the the 2011 indie-kid audience. They are definitely four very talented musicians, but live the vocals don’t distinguish themselves enough to provide that hook that’s really need to keep a true pop group going. Their funk/soul guitars and post-punk synths all combine very well in a great British tradition, but their frontman is no Bryan Ferry.

After a short break comes tonights headliners the much lauded Wolf Gang; They burst straight into a set filled with pop, pep, colour and brightness. Bouncing along from 4 minute pop song to 4 minute pop song. A solo artist writing complex pop songs with this many parts is nothing if not an impressive feat, however, the material itself is nothing ground breaking. Coming across as a British version of The Killers, with keyboard lines flopping over every verse and break, and somewhat uninspiring lyrics. McElligott is clearly a talented man, but perhaps his is a vision best left on record, or just indeed of a bit more time to get a live interpretation nailed down. Not at all bad, just a little uninspiring, in a city that can produce so many weird and wonderful things.

You can read our recent interview with Wolf Gang here.