Live Review: Oxygen Thief

Nice N Sleazy – 19/11

The first thing that strikes you about Oxygen Thief (real name Barry Dolan) is that he probably didn’t need his microphone despite being an acoustic artist. The pop-punk rocker often roars his wit-filled lyrics and in the small setting of Sleazy’s basement this has quite an effect. His calm affability really juxtaposed his manic and sometimes heroically energetic performance in a way that made the crowd warm to him very quickly. At times the audience seemed to be experiencing something close to the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The visceral nature of the lyrics drags you down into the song and then blows you away with the sheer power of Dolan’s lungs as he screams “If patience is a virtue what’s the point in urgency?” whilst furiously wrestling with his guitar. All that being said, his announcement that he was putting together a backing group sounded like a positive as the audience were often left imagining how rousing such moments could be with a full band. At times it seemed like Dolan might break if he exerted any more himself. Take any chance you can to go see him just in case he causes himself some lethal injury with his guitar.

Jonah Matranga’s career in indie-punk rock has been very long and he’s been through a number of evolutions but when he came out playing what can only be described as a sex-song heavily reliant on an equestrian metaphor, the audience knew that if all else failed, they’d damn well be entertained. Apparently inspired by a story told by the very good Alice and the Rampant Trio, Matranga played for us a rendition of Ginuwine’s R&B hit ‘Pony’.

Jonah Matranga
Jonah Matranga

The rest of the night proved to be just as unpredictable with Matranga asking the audience to request songs in lieu of a setlist. The resulting selection was eclectic but provided a great overview of his whole career with ‘Queen of Swords’ being particularly impressive; really testing the limits of Matranga’s voice. Often emotional narrative storytelling and jokes went hand in hand as Matranga showed the wisdom and humility of an aging, punk rocker.

Sharing his gratitude for his career and the opportunity to share a unique gig with the crowd and he really did make it seem very special, talking to the crowd and literally conceptualising music videos for the first time on the stage.

Finishing with a song called ‘Lukewarm’ (with a little help from Oxygen Thief) he taught the crowd how to sing along before finally departing, announcing he’ll back in Scotland soon.

[Tom Kelly]

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