A high-energy school disco and an overwhelmingly passionate set of fans turned up for Rex Orange County
Maisy Farren
10:52 28th November 2019

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Whilst Gigwise’s review of Rex Orange County’s Pony described a melancholy pragmatism, Alex O’Connor’s Brixton Academy show had all the energy and optimism of a Year 11 school disco. Admittedly, that might be because the average age of the audience was about 17-years old, but these kids turned up to shower their favourite singer-songwriter with energy, love and devotion. 

Bopping on stage in a charity shop jumper and faded Levi’s, O’Connor relished in the (deafening) screams from his audience. Waltzing around with a hand-held mic, the Surrey-based musician was channelling huge Pub Quiz Host vibes before settling down to perform a Pony led setlist. Dipping into the occasional treat from 2017’s Apricot Princess and letting the energy build and fall through upbeat and slower songs, the musician’s setlist was wonderfully curated from start to finish. 

The show was punctuated by a sort of mid-set half-time, where a curtain dropped to leave O’Connor alone and intimate with just his keyboard and 5,000 people. Slowing it right down with the heart wrenching ‘Every Way’, ‘Pluto Projector’ and an emotionally infused cover of Grease’s ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’, the audience was left hanging on his every heavy-hearted word. Naturally, he brought the energy back into the show with a thrilling set change and the triumphant ‘Never Had the Balls’, cracking on with the night alongside a full band, inflatable foil pony and shimmering disco ball.  

Whilst the tempo of the night might have ebbed and flowed, the audience’s enthusiasm never wavered. Despite Pony being his first major-label album, the fans in the audience looked at O’Connor with devotion, eagerly singing along to literally every lyric from the artist’s three-album career.

His on-stage patter and comically droll lyrics left me comparing him to Jamie T in his heyday, and I believe that the musician has the opportunity to become the Jamie T of the Gen Z generation. On a technical note, both vocals and keyboard could have benefited from a bit more volume - but that might be because of the unbelievable noise coming from the sold-out Academy. I hope O’Connor came away feeling triumphant from this great gig, safe in the knowledge that he’s got a whole generation of fans convinced…and some of us millennials too. 

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Photo: Becca Cribb