Oh Sees


In front of a sold out Albert Hall crowd, Oh Sees main man and Castle Face Records label boss John Dwyer takes to the stage, to a huge cheer, but hang on a minute, he’s just setting up the equipment – himself. That’s just one of the million reasons to love this band, not just for the tunes, which we’ll get to in a bit, but also for their whole approach to music, and down to earth attitude. Once they’re all happy everything’s set up right, off we go. No wandering off stage and coming on to a grand entrance, more along the lines of: tune up, amps on, casual glance round to check all of the band are ready, and then all hell breaks loose!

Launching with ‘Plastic Plant’, the two drummers Dan Rincon and Paul Quattrone, both up front and centre stage, pound their kits in synchronised rhythm, Dwyer plays his translucent guitar strapped high, almost across his chest, with a joyous wild abandon, nodding his head fervently throughout. The mosh pit gets wild, and the first of tonight’s many crowd surfers attempts to propel their way forward.

With a back catalogue of over fourteen albums to pick from, they play a set that picks from many of the last seven or so albums, with the occasional oldie dropped in as well. Bassist Tim Hellman and keyboard player Tomas Dolas help to push the band’s powerful sounds along, also allowing Dwyer’s guitar work and vocals to thrive. ‘Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster’s steady paced psych sounds explode into orbit for choruses of guitar riffs, and by the time the band get to the gorgeous speeding train that is ‘Withered Hand’, Dwyer’s excitable dancing on stage, coupled with the band’s ridiculously tight live sound, spin the crowd into a frenzy – more bodies are hurled forwards over the moshpit and the bouncing crowd stretches halfway down the Albert Hall and almost out to the bars at the side. It’s sheer rock n roll mayhem.

‘Sentient Oona’ from latest album Smote Reverser lets the band’s sound expand into a more hushed tone for its dreamlike verses, still carried along by the double drum rhythms and woozy keyboards and electronic gadgetry, before those almighty riffs come charging back in. Then there’s ‘The Static God’ and ‘Jettisoned’ from 2017’s album Orc both of which are powerhouses when played live tonight, before they end of the melodic mind field of ‘C’ also from 2018’s Smote Reverser, with the crowd bouncing along to its stomping drumbeats.

When we get outside the venue, we catch our breath for a bit, trying to calm down with adrenaline still buzzing through our veins after what we’ve just witnessed. We amble up Peter Street for an end of night drink or two, and on passing the clutter of fancily clad types queuing to get into the trendy bars nearby, a lone figure dressed in shorts and T shirt by a doorway stands out – it’s Dwyer, just standing outside the venue chatting to any gig goers who have spotted him, and although we’re deliriously surprised to see him, it really shouldn’t be that surprising at all – a hard working yet unassuming attitude to go hand in hand with this band. After discussing how well the gig went tonight, he apologises for his sweaty appearance (his t-shirt is still drenched) and kindly agrees to a quick pic with us before we carry on our evening, us to the bar, Dwyer to cool down and carry on chatting to fans. “Best live band in the world” according to BBC6Music’s Marc Riley, and on tonight’s evidence, you could add “of all time” to that sentence, and you wouldn’t be too far off the mark.

There’s no other band on the planet like Oh Sees – an all encompassing rock juggernaut, with stratospheric rock n’ roll tunes, yet with its feet firmly on the ground. Utterly mesmerising from start to finish.

Oh Sees: Official | Facebook | Twitter

From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.