LIVE REVIEW: Oh Wonder, SWG3, Glasgow, 03/03/2020
One of the nice things about the 21st century is that pop music isn’t a dirty word anymore. Pop is cool.
Oh Wonder are one of the coolest pop bands. Not because they’re hugely popular, nor is their sound zeitgeisty. What it is, is timeless and almost effortlessly joyful. Even if it’s a little bit of melancholy joy on occasion.
Musically, the band blend organic instrumentation, mellow, textured soundscapes and an underrated dual vocal attack into short, sharp bursts of pure pop pleasure. Simply put; it’s all pretty wonderful.
For a band playing their first show in a long time, it doesn’t show. The performance is as classy as it is fun, sing-alongs springing up totally unprovoked, the truest sign of a band who really, genuinely connect with their audience. There are no staged calls to action, just a sincere, heart-warmingly sweet back and forth with the crowd who adore the band as much as they obviously adore their fans. It almost makes you forget just how grey and cold it seems destined to be for all eternity…
The big-screen production, the mark of almost any band with a budget above a certain threshold these days. It might not be most inspired but it’s utilised in fun ways that are executed with a degree of sophistication that elevates the band beyond throwaway fun.
It’s difficult to pull out a highlight, but the likes of Ultralife, Technicolour Beat, Drive and the truly excellent Happy bring some of the biggest cheers of the night. It’s nice to have the more minimalist productions on record fleshed out in the live environment, live drums and bass bringing a more organic push and pull to this evening. Removed from the context of a modern pop record, it suddenly becomes apparent just how thought out intricate their compositions are, and it says a lot that that level of detail doesn’t stop the immediate thrill of a great pop song.
If we can get more pop bands like this dominating the charts, the world will surely become a better place.
Words & Photographs: Calum McMillan