7th November | O2 Academy
Six years ago, Josephine Vander Gucht was just another member in the crowd as she unknowingly looked up at Anthony West without the faintest idea that in 2014, she would meet him to form Oh Wonder. As the duo walk on stage, now joined by a guitarist and drummer, they looked almost dazed by the number of fans in the crowd, but their sold out show at Bristol’s O2 academy wasn’t the first and I guarantee it won’t be the last.
Opening the night with ‘Dazzle’, the screams for Oh Wonder instantly intensified as Josephine and Anthony sang in beautiful unison for the first time. The song’s title certainly rang true for the rest of the evening as the duo made their way through a well balanced set list of nostalgic favourites.
‘Without You’ is the perfect post breakup song, lyrically it couldn’t be more true and yet it possesses this underlying sense that no matter what, everything will be ok. ‘Lifetimes’ signalled a more positive approach to love whilst Shark shifted back to the uncertainty and questions love can pose.
As the synthy intro of ‘Landslide’ induces shivers, the sincere sentiment of its opening lyrics couldn’t have been more right; “I know it hurts sometimes, but you’ll get over it, you’ll find another life to live, I know you’ll get over it”. Oh Wonder have the ability to make every song so personal, I felt as if they were singing directly to me and by the last ‘I’ll be there for you’ I definitely wasn’t the only one with a tear rolling down my cheek.
Bringing the mood back up, ‘Heavy’ and ‘High On Humans’ spoke of life rather than love and gave fans the much needed opportunity to bounce and dance around. Their first single ‘Lose It’ and the beautifully tranquil ‘All We Do’ had invoked a sing a long amongst the crowd as they joined in with Josephine’s haunting vocals and equally majestic piano.
Released back in 2014, it’s hard to believe that when Oh Wonder first put out ‘Body Gold’they were just relatively unknown soundcloud sensations. “I can’t believe I’m here, I’m so grateful you’ve all come out to see us tonight” beamed Josephine from the stage just before going into penultimate track ‘Heart Strings’.
Despite their newfound fame, Oh Wonder still seem very down to earth, the most extravagant thing about the show was the giant OW light that lit up the stage behind them.. As ‘Technicolour Beat’ started playing the O2 academy was drenched in a wall of colour and an almighty applause was let out as it ended.
Of course two songs were missing from the setlist so an encore was inevitable. Sure enough a few moments after the staged was plunged into darkness, Oh Wonder returned as the crowds excitment levels went into overdrive. ‘Ultralife’ sent everyone into pure party mode as it’s upbeat catchy chorus kicked in and just as many people sung along to it as they did in ‘Without You’ or ‘Lose It’. ‘Drive’ is arguably Oh Wonder’s anthem and they couldn’t have picked a better song to end on. As the opening lyrics ‘sat back with the window down’ chimed out, there wasn’t a motionless mouth in sight. Their euphoric last number emphasized why Oh Wonder have sold out so many of their shows, their educated alt-pop sound combines poignant lyrics, beautiful melodies and flashes of experimental sampling.
Check out ‘Ultra Life’ below.