Razorlight @ o2 Institute, 10th December 2018

Opening the latest Razorlight tour at the O2 Institute in Birmingham on Monday evening were Fetiche, a French rock band who did a fantastic job warming up the ever-growing crowd in the venue’s main room. Energetic, engaging and over the top, the band were clearly gaining fans and head bobs as the performance continued. Perhaps if Red Hot Chili Peppers and The View had a love child, Fetiche would be that creation.

Next up were Sheffield indie band RedFaces, following appearances at Isle of Wight and TRNSMT festivals as well as a support slot with DMA’s. In terms of the two-support acts, RedFaces were certainly the more compatible and comfortable of the two however in my opinion this didn’t work in the band’s favour. Following the excitement of the first support band, RedFaces set trundled along without much bite, despite a number of audience members singing along to tracks such as Take It or Leave It and Wise Up. It would certainly be unfair to criticise the band’s melodic song writing efforts, however perhaps the live performance needs a little more oomph before the group’s potential is met.

Despite all efforts to appear like a band, Razorlight has always been the Jonny Borrell show. And despite many line-up changes, the most recent line up brought the Olympus Sleeping tour to the O2 Institute in support of the band’s most recent album of the same title on Monday evening.

Taking to a bare stage set up, the band immediately launched into ‘Rip It Up’ and ‘In the Morning’ from the band’s first two records, and with that the crowd were off. A clear recurrence of the evening soon became apparent however, that the crowd reacted as you would expect for any tracks from the band’s first three releases and become muted during anything from the most recent album.

However even if the new material hasn’t ignited the fanbase, the old songs hold enough nostalgia and memories of drinking cider in the park, house parties with value vodka and festivals with your best mates that it doesn’t matter. Once Borrell & Co blasted out tracks such as ‘Stumble & Fall’, ‘Vice’ and ‘Before I Fall To Pieces’ there was nothing but joy erupting from everyone within the room.

And despite all the negative attention that is drawn to Borrell, there was very little in the way of ego or bravado in terms of the performance. Highly complementary and welcoming of being in Birmingham, the only self-indulgent moment came towards the end of the show when the band returned to stage for the second of their encores. But when you can finish the first with ‘Somewhere Else’ and the second with ‘America’ surely you can be forgiven right?

Reviewer: Dan Earl

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