Paper Aeroplanes - Jericho Tavern, Oxford
A pleasant sunny evening in the posh student suburban hangout of Jericho, Oxford meant that part of me didn't want to go into a dingy venue for see a band. Arriving just before opening act Farao, and coincidentally a contender for TMF's latest single of the week, and discovering all the seats had been taken didn't help the mood, but on the upside The Jericho Tavern has some windows to the outside world and is actually pretty light. The Tavern has tables and chairs around the outside of the room, an interesting seating arrangement which doesn't make for the best atmosphere for the artists and as expected the lovely Norwegian vocalist asked us all to move towards the stage as otherwise she would have been playing to about three people. Her sparse performance, just Farao and her guitar, was very nice but a little one paced and slow. 'Skins', the single, was definitely the highlight. Wales' Paper Aeroplanes on the other hand do have the tunes to mix it up a bit. And they've got the world's number one Simon Pegg impersonator on double bass. The quieter first half of the show got a polite reception from the gathered few but really picked up pace with ’Safe Haven’, and properly took off with the title track from their new album Little Letters which rocked the house and got raucous applause. Lead singer Sarah Howells became more engaging as the set went on, and her interactions with the crowd were amusing and natural. In between all this there was the requisite stripped-down section with just Howells (who’s able to really show off her voice) and colleague Richard Llewellyn, which included “melancholic wedding song” ‘Fable’. As the drummer and bassist rejoined the fray the pace picked up again, and we heard those rarely uttered, but immortal, words "this song is about Milford Haven" as Howells introduced ‘When The Windows Shook’. Then in an amusing, and actually not uncomfortable, end to the evening the band realise there's nowhere to go for an encore so stayed on stage during the applause before launching into the final two songs. This was a really good evening of pop-slash-rock-slash-folk, confirming Paper Aeroplanes are a band on the up. Regular touring has helped to hone their sound and it came as no surprise that songs from the latest album stood out as the more commercial, and got the biggest reaction from the room on the night. Their first visit to Oxford, but hopefully not their last.