Josh Pyke at Oslo
It’s a Thursday night in Hackney’s edgiest venue, Oslo. Normally a shrine for local mid-30s hipsters with identikit beards and beanies, too old and too cool for the now mainstream locales of Dalston and Shoreditch; tonight Oslo is awash with students baying at Josh Pyke’s sold-out show. Americana-style red cups wave in the air, the vibe reminiscent of a frat party with a few uncool parents on the look-out. Pyke attracts a mixed bag of punters, this cross boundary appeal perhaps an indication of his musical output.
Pyke is a simple man with a simple acoustic guitar, bearing a harmonica to open the set; his pedals are his backing band this evening providing the layered dynamic to his performance. He’s a cookie cutter singer/songwriter, side-swept fringe, top-buttoned shirt, multiple badges on the guitar strap. Opening with White Lines Dancing, Pyke displays the warm melodic overtone he’s renowned for. He’s an accomplished guitar player with great vocal ability, a natural tunesmith.
Unfortunately what lets Pyke down is his middle of the road, lovelorn lyrics: “Your hand on my thigh, never thought I’d be the one to get a little luck on…” feels like nothing more elaborate than a sneaked glimpse into a teenager’s diary. There’s a lack of depth and superficiality lyrically that at times makes this feel like an early X Factor showcase. Silver demonstrates a similar aesthetic: “All my anguish and happiness, but I got no time for this mess”. This over earnest lyric sheet is unfortunately detrimental to his set, though that’s not to say it doesn’t resonate well with his fan base. Love Lies and The Forever Song drive the crowd to clamour for attention.
On stage, Pyke is warm and captivating; his between song banter is charming and comedic and displays elements of his personality that aren’t personified in his songwriting. Pyke is a natural songwriter and a humorous storyteller, and his chart success on his native Australian soil is testament to his appeal, along with multiple sold-out national tours. But to generate any cut through in a crowded, over saturated indie folk European market, he will have to work to find a USP to differentiate himself from the plethora of bereft acoustic guitar players already treading this circuit, wearing their hearts on their emo sleeves.
Photos: Zak Macro
For further information about Josh Pyke and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Leeward Side here: