November 18th, 2007


The world will be our oyster

The Zodiac @ the Carling Academy, Sunday 18th November

Taking a quick look at the Oysterband's website before the gig, I spotted a quote from a recent review:
"MEET YOU THERE, Oysterband's first full studio album in several years, may well be their best yet. They sound even more assured and confident, and although the folk influences are still discernible....... with this album they've achieved their fullest realization of a unique Oysterband sound..."
Oh noes, thought I. Oysterband already had a unique sound; but this review made it sound to me as though they were heading in the same direction as Fairport Convention, slowly turning down the volume on the folk-rock and replacing it with flabby MOR. But determined not to write them off as old men before hearing their new songs, I bought the latest Oysterband CD before the band came on; a vote of confidence, if you like.

My vote was not misplaced. They opened confidently with "Over the Water", which I hadn't heard before (it's the first track on the new album), but felt I knew by the second chorus. The first half of the gig concentrated more on the new material: all good, perhaps not quite as strong as the older stuff ... but then I felt that initally about some of the last album, and it's grown on me more and more over the last few years. Looking forward to listening again now I've got the CD. As the evening went on they did more and more of the old favourites; I bounced up and down until my legs ached for "Be My Luck", "When I'm up I can't get down", "Granite Years" and "20th of April"; and everybody sang along lustily with "Everywhere I Go", ending by singing the refrain again and again as the band improvised around it. You haven't heard folk rock till you've heard a rock cello solo, honestly.

As well as the old favourites there were a few surprises: an excellent version of "John Barleycorn"; a cover of "World Turned Upside Down" (ending with a chorus of "Give Peace a Chance", or -- the last time they sang it -- "come home from Iraq"); and a completely acoustic (not even amplified!) rendition of "All That Way For This". They ended with "Put Out The Lights" (since everybody put out one sort of 'lights' in June, thank goodness, people haven't had as many lighters to wave at gigs; but if they had had, this would have been a lighter-waving moment) and the rest of the audience was clearly as rapt as I was. I'll leave you with the band's words instead of mine.

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