Walking through the doors of the O2 Academy, it would seem like the entirety of Oxford’s bearded music lovers had gathered to form a slightly off beat congregation with Dry the River at the heart of the elated murmurs which flowed through the room. Despite the somewhat alien atmosphere, having not had the chance to see any of the band’s recent live performances; it was great to see the guys take to the stage as part of their current headline tour.
What became strikingly obvious throughout the entire night was the band’s skillful ability to play and shift between tempos and at times genres in a single song, although this is known to be one of the band’s great attributes, there’s something about watching this play out on stage that is quite fascinating.
Listening to a number of their songs it’s easy to credit most of the timings to a wise producer working away in a studio, whilst in reality as a band, they’ve worked hard at pulling off these changes effortlessly on stage; this worked particularly well with Bible Belt which was a personal favourite from the night.
The band’s smooth blend of harmonies work just as well in a live show and in some moments even better than on their records. Right from the onset and throughout the entire set, we were constantly being serenaded in a way which really showed off the vocal strength of the band.
Although it was slightly unusual to see lead singer Peter Liddle refrain from the, at times tiresome, chit chat that attempts to connects the fans to the tour, it was great to see that fans were eager to connect with the band’s music which varied widely from popular older material to recent songs from their Alarms In The Heart record. Naturally the most popular songs of the night included No Rest, at this point, fans were fully engrossed in the presence of the band and a full on sing along ensued.
Towards the end of the set, it was evident that Dry the River have a firm fan base here in Oxford and as it drew to a close with Shaker Hymns as one of the final songs of the night, there was an unforgettable sense of awe from the band. They showed their gratitude for the immense support shown by the audience by successfully pulling off a show that encapsulated all that the band currently stand for – a constantly evolving group of talented artists interested in making fantastic music.