Rixton at Bush HallCultureMusicLive music
Rixton know that there’s more than one direction to be taken in pursuit of the boy band holy grail of transatlantic success. The Manchester foursome dealt with the usually tricky business of breaking America some months ago yet remain relatively unknown at home. A campaign devised to address this imbalance – a series of festival appearances, a single release, and a mini-tour – culminated in their performance at Bush Hall.
The former Edwardian dance hall is intimate but palatial, and tonight it’s filled by an enthusiastic sell-out crowd comprising of perhaps 90% females under 25. They wait loyally for their idols through a delay to the advertised start time, cheerily adjusting each other’s hair and taking selfies. When finally Rixton take the stage to the catchy Speakerphone, the welcome they receive is shrilly deafening.
Frontman Jake Roche handles the room with a charm and showmanship fitting of his pedigree as the child of Shane Ritchie and Coleen Nolan (his proud Dad films much of the set on his phone from beside the mixing desk). He insists that his band are not on tour, but rather filling time before a return to the US with “an excuse for a big party”, before launching into Beautiful Excuses, a ballad showcasing a voice that makes up for in range what it lacks in outright power.
Musically, the performance is lightweight and somewhat lacking in depth. A given song can feature only bass or keyboards (as Danny Wilkin supplies both) and Roche’s rhythm guitar is frequently lost in the mix or abandoned entirely. Unusually for a band of this ilk, there are no real harmonies, though Wilkin and guitarist Charley Bagnall do supply supporting vocals. This doesn’t seem to trouble an audience who are content to form choir-like backing to each memorable chorus.
A medley of covers reveals much about Rixton’s influences and intentions. R Kelly’s Ignition and Sisqo’s Thong Song show the clear desire to throw a bouncy pop party. The choice of She will be Loved is particularly telling, as there are obvious parallels to Maroon 5’s soulful pop in the original compositions Rixton perform.
In spite of some technical shortcomings, Rixton’s chirpy likeability clearly has a contagiously intoxicating effect on their target audience. Closing the set with a mass sing-along to new single Me and my Broken Heart, they demonstrate that there’s every hope of repeating their US success on their native shores.
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Watch the video for Me and my Broken Heart here: