The NME New Breed Tour arrived in Oxford on Wednesday for the fifth date of a nine leg tour across the UK. Headlined by Birmingham four-piece Superfood, supported tour-wide by Glaswegians Honeyblood and in Oxford by young indie/pop quartet Orange Vision, it was a chance for these three bands to showcase their talents and try and widen their fan bases.
Anyone at the venue at the beginning of the show could have been forgiven for believing they had come to the wrong place. When Orange Vision took to the stage, there would have been a struggle to field a rugby team with number of people in attendance. There was no atmosphere and it was as if the people who had bothered to arrive on time assumed that the lads on stage were the soundcheck staff as there was no applause or cheering. But the boys carried on unfazed and began to perform to who I can only assume were their family members and college friends.
In each city, NME and Superfood jointly handpicked a local band from the area to support at that city’s show. As a result I was optimistic as to how good Orange Vision would be. I was mistaken. There seemed to be no variety in any of their songs, and the lyrics to each were tediously repetitive and uninteresting. Considering that the band put themselves under the “indie/pop” genre, there seemed to be no consistency to their style, with mod/Oasis style tracks, to tracks which seemed very heavy. Whenever there was the smallest of instrumentals, the vocalist (and rhythm guitar player) would start slashing around as if he was at a heavy metal gig instead of playing in an “indie/pop” band… He would also go up to the lead guitarist during every guitar solo and the two would proceed to grind up against each other, which just made for very awkward viewing.
I find it incredibly hard to believe that there is not a better Oxford-based band to whom NME and Superfood could have looked to instead… At least one that has a drummer who can keep a constant beat!
Luckily, for all in attendance, Orange Vision were only on stage for half an hour. After an extended period of removing drum kits and amps and conducting sound checks, Honeyblood graced the stage in front of a slightly fuller audience. Thankfully for the Glaswegian pair, anything would have sounded better than what had been on stage before them, but credit has to be due, where credit is due. These two girls are very good musicians, with the drummer, Shona, controlling the tempo expertly through every song and providing complicated fills and inspired solos. Vocalist and guitarist, Stina, has a great tone to her voice. The downside it seemed was that the vast majority of their songs sounded very, very similar. I feel that with better written tracks, these girls could go on to be very successful and capitalise on a gap in the market, as their performance was not bad at all, it was just let down slightly by the lack of differentiation between songs.
Headliners Superfood took to the stage at 21:30 to a rapturous applause from their fans who had had to wait what must have seemed like ten hours instead of two to see their idols. Unfortunately for the crowd, the show was not really going to get an awful lot better. As had been the case for most of the evening (apart from the last quarter of Honeyblood’s set), the sound levels were all wrong, resulting in the vocals being very hard to understand and instead being treated with copiuos amounts of feedback from the guitar amps. In all fairness to Superfood though, similarly to Honeyblood, they are all very good musicians who perform their tracks to the best of their abilities. The only black dot on that statement is the bassist who just had no energy and seemed like she did not really want to be there. In contrast to the previous two bands though, their songs seemed reasonably well-written and one or two of them are actually quite catchy. Considering this was the “headline” act though, they failed to inspire me at all. There does not seem to be anything unique about them that would make them stand out from any other mainstream band.
I was expecting a lot more from this gig. I had heard a few good things about Superfood, and I was intrigued by the uniqueness of Honeyblood. Orange Vision were a lost cause from the moment they stepped onto the stage and I can not help but feel that will be the last time they ever support an established act. Honeyblood definitely showed some promise, but there is still a lot to work on if they are going to push forward and become really successful. With regards to Superfood, I think they just need to find something that makes them stand out, at the moment they just aren’t that interesting… A very underwhelming night I’m afraid.