Toon In

Tom Harrow-Smith reviews Wilkinson at the O2 Academy...the gig he never intended to go to

Tom Harrow-Smith
23rd February 2017

Hands up if you got the alternative American indie band Wilco confused with popular English Drum and Bass DJ Wilkinson? Anyone? Just me then. Yeah so maybe I am not completely down with the kids, having no idea about what or who I had signed up to review. I had fleetingly heard his tracks ‘Afterglow’ and ‘Sweet Lies’, which I found ‘alright’, which is about as much praise you could hope from me – probably the least fan of Drum and Bass as it is possible to be (you can see now why I presumed Wilco, not Wilkinson). Wilkinson is currently on tour promoting his second album, Hypnotic, to be released on the 21st April, and played a number of new tracks from it.

"My previous live music experiences of Indie bands had not prepared me for this or what was to come"

Anyhow, I set off for the O2 with a mixture of trepidation, curiosity and fear, this was my first DJ set/gig/rave/whatever you want to call it in my lifetime, and after this experience, it will probably end up being my last. Outside the venue it suddenly hit me, it was half term, the whole place was packed with teenagers, and me and my girlfriend stood out like a Sunderland fan in St James’ Park, distinguishable quite clearly by our distinct lack of branded clothing, Adidas logo’s or crop tops. I have never seen anything quite like it. As we queued for a drink a young guy stood in front arguing with the barmaid that the ID he had given her was not a fake. I caught a glimpse of the photo, it depicted a long and dark haired man, whilst the teenager before me was ginger and had the letters ‘S E S H’ shaven into the back of his head... My previous live music experiences of Indie bands had not prepared me for this or what was to come.

Onto the set itself - perched towards the back of the O2 leaning on a railing, too afraid to wade into the throngs of teenagers pulsating below. It was ok, Wilkinson was joined by a drummer and guitarist, with guest vocalists (of whom I could not hear their names – Emily Reynolds? I think). ‘Sweet Life’ came on as the second song, which meant I had to wait an eternity until I heard a song I liked/knew, which of course was ‘Afterglow’, which I have to admit was pretty good. However, I cannot lie, this was just not my scene, from the blinding and hypnotising light shows to the relentless ‘music’ being blasted from all corners. The only solution was getting quite drunk, something which was a last resort considering the O2’s prices. However, if you are a Wilkinson fan, do not let this review influence you, I know nothing.

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