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LIVE: Andy Shauf - Oslo, Hackney

“Welcome to the party you’re the first one there, overdressed and underprepared” – well you got two out of three, Andy. I actually made it to a gig on time, a good start. But then I had been looking forward to this gig for weeks.
I was turned on to Andy Shauf by a friend whose musical opinion I value highly. I’d implore anyone reading this who hasn’t heard Shauf to listen to The Party as soon as possible, in it he scratches below the surface to reveal the intricate stories, thoughts and feelings of the characters at the party. He plays almost all the instruments on the record and the production is first class… a real piece of work.So I see Andy walking around before the show he cuts a slight and shy figure with his hood up and trade mark long hair tucked away avoiding eye contact with people, but if you’d listened to his stuff you’d be half expecting this. I find my spot (stage left) amongst a very mixed crowd and settle in for the show.Andy takes the stage followed by a drummer, bassist and two clarinetists, from the first few notes I realise this is gonna be a show to remember. Soon enough the band are rattling through flawless renditions of all my favourites from The Party, ‘Just Like You’, ‘Early To The Party’ and of course ‘The Magician’. They also play some earlier stuff from The Bearer of Bad News such as ‘Hometown Hero’ and ‘I’m Not Falling Asleep’. Shauf ended the set to rapturous applause and the crowds started to chant “one more song”…. “Two more songs”… “Three more songs”, they took to the stage again stemming the crowds ever growing demands. We got just one more song though, ‘Wendell Walker’ the tale of a tormented lover but at over eight minutes it fitted the brief.

If I had one criticism it would be that there were certain points in some songs that should have ‘kicked’ but didn’t, this is, it has to be said, is mainly due to layering on the record and a lack of musicians on the stage. I must stress this is a minor criticism of a fantastic gig.

Few bands I have seen recently have left their mark on me in quite the same way, melancholy lyrics combined the pretty melodies of the clarinets and acoustic guitar, backed by one of the most talented rhythm sections I’ve seen in ages inspire the soul to radiate. I walked out of there with a lasting smile on a face, which I’m still wearing now writing this now.

He plays Leeds Brudenell social club tonight before leaving out fair shores for Germany, Netherlands and France. Check him out.

James Whatley