The Dears - Oslo, Hackney
As Autumn starts to set in with a drizzly October Saturday in Hackney, The Dears arrive at the compact Oslo to provide the soundtrack to the evening on the second date of their UK tour. Having sold out their previous UK tour at the beginning of the year, the sparse attendance initially throws up some concerns but, thankfully, the crowd swells to another sold out show as the band takes to the stage.
Support comes in the form of the fabulous Fabrizio Cammarata, a folk singer in the vein of Iron and Wine and Nick Drake, silencing the crowd instantly with his soaring and powerful version of Mexican traditional song ‘La Llarona’.
After a quick switch around, it’s time for the main event as The Dears take to the stage clad in black with Murray Lightburn looking like a sixties Motown star decked out in a black suit and obligatory sunglasses. They launch into an opening salvo from their latest, Times Infinity Volume 2, including ‘Taking It To The Grave’ and ‘Of Fisticuffs’. The rest of the set whizzes by relentlessly as their tracks take on a grander rockier sound than their recorded counterparts that snares their fans and take them for the ride as they revisit classic crowd pleasers from their back catalogue of Gang Of Losers and No Cities Left. This is, however, Murray’s show as the rest of the band (Natalia included) are quite withdrawn and workmen-like while Murray begins to morph into a Soul legend building more and more momentum as the set goes on, putting to rest the Damon Albarn vocal comparisons with a smooth and booming voice.
Ending with one encore, Murray returns to the stage with acoustic guitar in hand. After initially asking the crowd for suggestions, and after a lot of incoherent shouting stating “I’m going to play what I want to play” sarcastically affecting the voice of a spoilt child, Murray provides a caveat of “I’m going to make an ass of myself”. He then launches into a sublime version of ‘Ticket to Immortality’ that hushes the crowd and rounds off the evening on a high bringing a stadium level performance and sound to a relatively modest space.