Studio Private, Oxjam – September 23rd
Photo by Dan Medhurst
Since it’s inception in 2006 Oxjam has played host to over 50,000 musicians playing to an audience of over 1,000,000 across 4,000+ shows, raising in excess of £2m for the charity. Truly staggering numbers I’m sure you’ll agree; and it’s projects like this that show the true importance of art.
I was lucky enough to be at the first of the events four launch shows at Studio Private in Shoreditch; headlined by the ever-outstanding, Dry the River. Shortly after nestling my way into the intimate East London loft, the night’s host, BBC 6 Music’s Nemone, took the stage to welcome the first act, Josephine. Blending her Liberian and Jamaican roots with a traditional English singer-songwriter style she delivered a set of soulful acoustic gems.
Having already had one act pull out due to illness, we were informed that the replacement act were delayed at the airport, but would be arriving in time for their main support slot. In true communal spirit befitting a night such as this, Dry the River’s guitar tech who goes by the stage name Big Fin took to the stage to fill the gap – and fill it he did. Mixing honest lyrics and detailed storytelling he won over the crowd with an incredibly likeable and involving stage presence.
Hotfooting their way from the airport, London based blues-rock band Gentlemen flew through a shortened set of Dandy Warhols-esque bohemian rock. It was an impassioned performance; only surpassed by their admirable determination to make sure that they played the Oxjam stage.
Despite the late hour, the crowd’s spirits remained high; with a huge roar erupting as the East London quintet emerged to a homecoming crowd. Beginning with the lush a capella harmonies of ‘Weights and Measures’, Dry the River delivered a set of exceptional quality; from the stripped back Americana tones of ‘History Book’ to the thundering, cacophonous outro of ‘Lions Den’, they illustrated the quality which weaved its way throughout their debut, Shallow Bed. As Liddle’s trembling falsetto echoed and faded out on ‘No Rest’, we knew that we’d been treated to a special show, for a truly special cause.