Albany Down at The Bullingdon, Oxford

Posted on 12 July 2016
By Neil Stopforth
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It’s difficult enough for a well-established band to get a crowd going on a Monday night in Oxford, but that wasn’t going to stand in the way of London-based rockers Albany Down.

A lot of credit should first of all be given to Albany Down’s support band, Invisible Vegas, who managed to energise the The Bullingdon’s Haven Club with a set that comprised a number of excellent original songs varying from rock to country and a superb version of The Cult’s She Sells Sanctuary thrown into the mix. This was just what the classic-rock turnout needed to warm them up for the main act.

For a lot of bands, it might be quite difficult to muster up any energy or enthusiasm when you’re faced with a crowd of no more than forty people but Albany Down certainly managed to. Opening with their latest single, Feeding The Flame, vocalist Paul Muir could have easily been singing to a stadium crowd on a big stage and it’s this spirited vivacity that makes up part of Albany Down’s appeal.

Supersonic Girl had a good groove and stood up well live with guitarist Paul Turley leading the way with slick guitar playing. Turley is showing himself to be a competent axeman and, while not exactly a speedy player, he demonstrates the ability to stray outside the pentatonic and blues scales and create quite melodic and well thought out solos which on the night, he played with accuracy and fervour. And besides, it’s best not to play ten notes when one will usually suffice.

Donna Peters’ drumming never missed a beat and she put everything into South Of The City, the title track of the band’s first album. This, combined with Turley’s slide guitar and Billy Dedman’s solid bass playing, is a true foot-stomping blues rock track and sounds even better live with both Peters and Muir bashing the living daylights out of the giant cymbals Peters hangs on her kit.

It was good to see a band that avoided the temptation to simply crank up the volume and think that’s what a live sound is, but between Albany Down and the technician, they were able to reproduce the album sound quite faithfully without losing the vibrancy of a live performance. This is something usually only larger venues can accomplish but both band and venue did an excellent job.

Albany Down are now three albums in and already have a good collection of songs to showcase on the stage which they do very well indeed. Despite the low turnout, Muir was still relaxed, confident and he engaged the crowd like they were in his living room. Individually, the band members aren’t virtuosos when it comes to their instrument of choice, but put them together to write and perform songs and everything just seems to work.

Their songs have good melodies with catchy hooks and good choruses. Even the modest crowd weren’t shy about singing along to the beautiful melody of Sing Me To Sleep and the impromptu hand clapping showed that the audience were enjoying what they were hearing.

As long as Albany Down keep on doing what they’re doing and putting in live performances like this one, then they should have plenty more albums in them yet – something every blues-rock fan (and indeed every music fan) can look forward to.

Albany Down,
The Bullingdon, Oxford
July 11th, 2016
PR Rating: **** Feeding the Flame
The Outer Reach album review can be found here:—the-outer-reach.html

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