Photo: Phoebe Fox
Rex Orange County, Hammersmith Apollo, 5th October 2018
With only 2 LP’s under his belt, 20-year-old Alexander O’Connor aka. Rex Orange County took to the stage at the iconic Hammersmith Apollo, joining an exclusive group of 20 something year olds who have ever been able to sell out the Hammersmith Apollo, a career highlight for any artist.
Alex’s painfully real-world lyrics battle against sweet and saccharine lyricism whilst simultaneously creating a rugged beauty through the honesty and unobscured visuals evoked, that through one track or another resonated with each sweat soaked follower in the Apollo that night.
The cult following of Alex was immediately felt with the rapturous roars from the Rex hungry crowd, the drama induced cinematic opening of Apricot Princess was played out by a string ensemble that was elevated by the roars of the crowd, it was at this moment that I sensed a feeling that rex wasn’t just a musician but instead a 20-year-old Londoner idolised by the fans, for his quirk and honesty behind his stories. The orchestral opening soon dropped into a boppy bassline driven second half of the song, driving the crowd into a frenzy, which wasn’t let up by it’s successor the upbeat groover Television/ So Far So Good.
Rex’s first released single track ‘Uno’ hit the crowd with a playfull beat which contrasted the anxious lyrics, with every teenager in the crowd be able to scream the iconic final few lyrics of the song ‘every now and then I think about the fact that I’ll be a legend if I die at 27’, after bopping to the springy melody stringing all the way through the track.
The tempo slowed down as the lights dimmed, leaving a spotlight shining down on a solo Alex, playing songs: Waiting Room and Untitled, which revealed a more tender and raw side to the set- followed by a new track- resonating with a bittersweet and introspective mood, under floaty simple keys. An unexpected choice of song came when Rex played out a slowed down cover of Alecia Keyes’ No-one, an emotionally charged performance characterised by warm strummed chords and despite being just Alex and his guitar, there was an impressive backup performance by the Apollo crowd.
The encore ended with ‘Loving is Easy’, which was the perfect finale to a set full of good vibes and tender moments, all topped off with a slice of wholesome goodness- Alex had all the crowd jiving to the song’s infectious melody. The highlight of the set was a result of the ensemble’s string’s floating alongside the enchanting light bouncing from an enormous disco ball, creating what can only be described as a pretty magical scene. The set carried on even after Alex and the band had left the stage, with Rex’s followers continuing the chorus out of the exit doors all the way to the tube stop.