Review: Orson, The Academy, 2006

Original article;

Orson at the Academy Colin Warhurst (gig: 23/10/06) As the lights went down and some thumping oriental music straight from a Japanese Manga movie burst out from the speakers, Orson entered to rapturous applause and a barrage of strobe lights. Drums and bass guitar thundered out of the amps and hit you straight in the jugular; a slow build up expertly crafted with a gradual crescendo, yet more lights, screeching guitars and expertly placed feedback. I felt like I was in Vietnam and just as I thought all hell was going to break loose, this impromptu wall of noise transformed into their (for better or worse) most successful hit over here, Bright Idea.

Opening the set with your most popular/well known song could have been a gamble but if that guitar intro was anything to go by, and with the whole crowd erupting and joining in with the opening tune, I was in for a treat. Disappointingly, it never arrived. The musical ability and sheer joy that was in the opening number went AWOL for much of the rest of the gig. Excited audience? Check. Tight band? Check. Stage presence? Check. So what was my problem? A lack of spontaneity? Check. There were no bursts of music, no personality other than the bare minimum needed. The band were playing to the front half of The Academy, whilst the rest of us at the back tried to get involved but felt strangely locked out.

There were highlights and Orson are genuinely charming, but this was a gig of potential, not realisation. The lead guitar could have been the star of the show but it never unleashed itself, so all attention was on front man Jason Pebworth; a true talent and the only person really trying to make any successful attempt at lifting the roof of the gig. By the time the encore came around, inevitably made up of Happy and No Tomorrow, the pessimist in me saw a well calculated act of framing the gig by having spectacular openings and endings and mediocrity between. It was that kind of gig. I wanted to say they were great, and there’s nothing wrong to say about them; I just can’t find anything right either. Unfortunately, one charismatic and talented front-man does not a great gig make.