Gig Review: The September Session: O2 Academy2 Islington

‘With an abundance of emerging artists and enthusiastic gig-goers, The September Session proved new music is very much alive!’  

Gig Review

Launching what is to become a monthly event featuring new artists at the O2 Academy2 Islington, The September Session (11th September 2019) gave an incredible start these regular showcases. Promoted by Joe Davies of Academy Events, these gigs aim to give artists who are trying to break through a dedicated evening to do what they do best: perform an abundance of great tracks to enthusiastic gig-goers. And as it turned out, The September Session proved to be exactly this.

Opening the night with his own style of effortless musicality, Olli Ingall made his way to the stage and began to deliver a set that would feature a showcase of multi-instrumentalism, production and sublime vocals. It has to be said that with only one track released on Spotify ahead of the gig – the beautiful ‘Lost Love’ – there was little to go on. However, the likelihood was that it was to be 20 minutes or so of tracks that gave just as much. And we weren’t to be disappointed.

With the opening tracks of his set giving us an introduction to his varied sound, something which was backed up by his comment of ‘I’m a bit inconsistent with what I write,’  Olli guided use seamlessly through 150, Isabel and Kinda Girl. Making further comments about his changing styles, including how Isabel would ensure the ‘room would stink of mature cheddar’ due to the fact it was full of cheesy lyrics relating to relationships, it became clear that he was truly enjoying his moment. Sure it was understated but like the best solo artists, the connection comes from making the audience really feel part of it, which through his jokey persona and references to his personal life was exactly what happened.

Taking this approach into and through the second half of his set, a complete reworking of Elvis’s Burning Love further enhanced the connection found to this point. Performing it in a way that was heartfelt and emotional, the piano accompaniment that Olli provided himself with let his voice soar and transport the track well away from the up-tempo, rock ‘n’ roll original. Likewise, hearing the stories behind ‘Lost Love’, the first-ever track he wrote ‘Daydream’ and the life-reflective, guitar infused ‘Man Up’ ensured his excitement of performing and our enjoyment of experiencing it was evident right to the end. 

Performing second at this night of new music, Lonnie Storey were to be the first of three bands that would feature. Making their way to the stage, frontman-guitarist-vocalist Lonnie backed by bass guitar, drums and keys instantly exuded joy. Beaming from ear to ear and encouraging the crowd to get closer to the stage with what would turn out to be a recurring sentence of ‘Just want to be friends’ it was clear he was loving it before the set had even started.

Much like Olli, ahead of the gig there was little to go on, but with previous releases ‘Silver and Glass’ and ‘Make It Slow’ providing great musical contrast to each other, it was likely this would carry into the evening. And, with his opener ‘Silver and Glass’ giving a wonderful injection of energy it seemed like this would be very much the case. However, with Lonnie proving to have the makings of a perfect frontman, the interaction between him and his band members made it hard to believe this was, in fact, the first gig as a band.

Just as much as Lonnie made his enjoyment known to us throughout, it was clear that all musicians were having just as much of a feel-good good time. It was actually exactly what you want when you experience live music as when the artist is having a great time, the crowd will do likewise. And, the fact that this was the case for the gently sway-inducing sound of ‘Make It Slow’ proved that it didn’t matter the sensation of the track, the level of enjoyment was just as high. It has to be said though that the way in which Lonnie lost himself in his guitar solos during both this, and his now released ‘Found You,’ certainly played a huge part in ensuring we were engaged throughout.

“The September Session was a phenomenal way to kick off our new monthly band night. It was fantastic to see music fans and industry figures alike coming out to support emerging artists and enjoy a brilliant night of new music. Thanks to Olli Ingall, History & Lore, Lonnie Storey and Talkboy being part of the first of what we hope will be many successful nights.” – Joe Davies, Academy Events

With the first two artists giving a mix of wonderfully chilled and soaring musicality that definitely stayed on the side of calm and gentle, it was clear that the appearance of History & Lore would see a dramatic change occur. Not only did they have the most musicians to this point of the night with five, but with two electric guitars, bass guitar, synth, drums and vocals in both male and female form, it was unlikely to be anything other than dominating. And, with them asking ‘Who has been to a History & Lore gig before?’ and the crowd moving forward to be as close to the stage as possible, it seemed like the atmosphere was to be as expected.

Instantly bursting into life just as much as their music with Different Things – a track that is to be released in 2020 – the sound generated was a world away from what the night had been so far. The musicality mixed with the highly evident showmanship from all sides made the room completely come alive. The crowd were of course completely loving it and with the musical contrasts held within ‘Lights’ and ‘Epilogue/Prologue’ it wasn’t hard to realise why. Most it seemed were true fans of History & Lore and as such they knew what to expect, and more importantly, they knew History & Lore would deliver the goods. 

At every turn during the set they delivered even more. One minute it was an explosion of guitar riffs. The next it was even more so. One minute they were leaping about on the stage. The next minute they were in the crowd. Want to know to how to make your audience feel completely involved? This was the masterclass you needed. Equally, with the mix of older and newer material continuing throughout, and 2019’s anthemic ‘St Claire’ placed between 2018’s ‘Black Eyes’ and ‘Tilikum’, it was a total masterclass in how to design a setlist as well. It’s little wonder then that with an encore requested, the rhythmically centred ‘Wolf I Cried’, made for the perfect choice.

Having had three artists already give their sets absolutely everything, it has to be said that headliners Talkboy had a lot to live up to. But, with them performing on Reading and Leeds BBC Introducing Stage only a couple of weeks ago, it was likely that they would bring that energy and exhilaration to their ‘The September Session’ slot. And, after making their way onto the stage – well, more like cramming given the fact the six musicians and their equipment barely fitted on it – they headed off into their truly trademark sound.

Bringing a real sense of energy and enjoyment, their opener ‘Someone Else for You’ instantly brought the intended effect. Stylishly powerful, and containing diverse contrasts of atmosphere, it really set the standard. This said, while the musicality was incredibly high, the sheer level of energy that poured off the stage – right from Jake Greenway’s wrist-breaking drumming to Tim Malkin’s exuberant, movement filled guitar playing  – almost exceeded it.

Taking the contrast from within a single track into the first half of the set, last year’s releases ‘Mother’ and ‘Over and Under’ made for the perfectly contrasting pair. Delivering an impressive combination of gently psychedelic edged sounds and rhythmically charged boundless energy, each proved the quality of Talkboy’s songwriting. Truly heightening the sensations gained from hearing their tracks ahead of the night, it was an ideal chance for those in the room who hadn’t to get a first-hand experience. Equally, proving they aren’t just about being a full band, the surprise soloist moment brought by ‘Hollow Spheres’ delivered intimacy and further interest.

Taking us back to the fuller sound for the second half of the set, the six-piece gave us their latest release ‘All Works Out.’ Unmistakably Talkboy, it was the best possible way to take us back into the previous power. Being such a strong track when it came out last month, it was little surprise that the live delivery made it feel even more so. Additionally, with the crowd joining them on the infectious chorus lyrics, it ensured we were on board right until the youth reflective final track ‘Wasting Time.’ Feeling somewhat ironic as an ending to the evening, it was completely obvious that neither Talkboy – nor the other artists – had wasted the night one bit.

All photos copyright of Listen to Discover. See more from the night at: Gig Photography: September 2019

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