Band review; inLight, The Bullingdon, Oxford

22nd March 2009

How many times have you gone to see a band, or an artist – a band or an artist you’ve heard good studio tracks from – but when you get there, when you saw and heard them ‘live’, you were disappointed?

Did you hear jerky vocals from both the up-front and the backing? Was there some dodgy timing from the drummer? Suspect bass notation? An over-ambitious lead guitar? And all finished off with an unmanaged sound system?

And it’s the big names who suffer with dips in performance as well as the lesser known artists; I once drove 300Kms to see ELO live in Brussels (hey, it was a very long time ago) and frankly, that night in Belgium, ELO sucked donkey balls.

So what, I asked myself, were we going to get from Oxfordshire-based foursome ‘inLight’ at The Bullingdon, a 250-person capacity venue on Oxford’s Cowley Road, in the heart of Studentdigsville?

What, I wondered, was going to come our way through the probably iffy, hazy, low-level lighting and an in-house sound system?

I’ll tell you; we got excellence my friend. It was pure, brilliant, wonderful indie-genre excellence.

The band (more about the individuals in a minute) walked on and just went straight in to it with a beautifully held sequence of sliding chords from the lead guitar. These gorgeously made peals were accompanied by some very solid rhythm guitar work, which was soon joined by the bass and percussion which, instead of demolishing the intricately-constructed piece apart, served to build on the experience.

And what an experience it was, because that gently sliding, haunting, ethereal-quality lead guitar raised the hairs on the back of my neck; that artistry would not have disgraced an undiscovered corner of Pink Floyd’s ‘Meddle’ (one of the greatest pieces of showcase guitar work in the history of… history).

inLight’s guitar-work isn’t flashy like some pretenders to the throne. It is full of substance and beauty and structure and timing and…  love. Because that curly-haired guitarist from Oxfordshire? He loved those notes and he loved the way his guitar spoke through him.

But no, this was neither the fantastic Dave Gilmour, nor any other incarnation of Pink Floyd. This was inLight; four thoroughly nice, educated, studentish-looking lads from Oxfordshire. Four lads capable of writing and performing original work that will have you walking around the office days later saying for the dozenth time to your colleagues ‘I went to a great gig last weekend!’

Believe me, inLight are that infectious. inLight’s music is a series of intricately-woven melodies that carry your feelings in a most evocative way. There are refrains that soar ever higher and there are lyrics that have been written by someone with a brain, a real brain; someone who writes intellectual, thoughtful lyrics.

‘Peaked too soon’, I thought as they cleverly drew their first number down to a delicate segue in to their next song. And how wrong was I to even suggest that a band this clever would condescend to peak that early?

In a music world currently beset by mediocrity, where studio-bound artists occasionally permit some carefully rehearsed set-pieces to be dragged out and given an airing in front of a live audience, it is pure joy to watch, listen to and experience four talented musicians who genuinely enjoy performing their art for their audience.

At the end of the set inLight closed with ‘Icarus’, a prime example of indie-driven anthemic goodness. Whilst a large number of new bands are scrabbling around trying to sound like tomorrow’s ‘Arctic Monkeys’, inLight gives anyone who is seriously interested in quality music a real alternative. This is probably the best unsigned indie music act in the UK today.

inLight are:
Charlie Cooke (vocals, piano, synths, guitar)
Mike Riddle (lead guitar)
Johnny Hunter (bass)
Pete Lawless (drums)

More?
You can hear more from the band at various websites, but I recommend:
http://www.myspace.com/inlightband and
http://www.inlightband.com

Reviewed by:
Brennig Jones

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6 Responses to Band review; inLight, The Bullingdon, Oxford

  1. Pingback: Brennig Jones » Blog Archive » Musical stuffish

  2. Janis says:

    Wow. This is strongly written. You really sound like these guys are completely brilliant. I like that you tell us about the musicianship skills rather than just say things like ‘they were really cool’ which is all the student music press says here. You have played them on the podcast before haven’t you? I remember the song Icarus that you talk about. I will have to go back and listen to them again. Janis. x

  3. Gina says:

    Sadly I couldn’t make this gig, but I’ve been to several others (Jericho Tavern).
    I hope you loved ‘Bridges’ – I think it’s amazing! The complexity and musicality well deserve their pride of place as title track on the new movie ‘The Butterfly Tattoo’.
    http://www.tbtproject.com/splashsite/index.html
    (also – well written review – looking forward to seeing more)

  4. Yoshien says:

    Hello Mr Bren my friend this is very musical and very dood again. Next time please will you have the entire review on This Reality Podcast so we can listen to you say it as well as here the music again? Thank you. Yoshien. 19.

  5. kevin marcus says:

    “This is probably the best unsigned indie music act in the UK today”. Are you having a laugh?

    I was only searching to find out what was on at the bullingdon tonight and came across this. Furious. I saw inlight at the jackfm comp @ the o2. The most dull and uninteresting band of the night BY FAR. The 3 other bands a solo act were clearly superior and people we spoke to agreed that the band shouldnt have made the top 5.

    I am angry because I feel that Inlight at getting undeserved attention. It wont last long.

    They never had a chance in the Next Big Thing. This review is complete nonsense. Fuck inlight they are going nowhere

  6. producer says:

    Thanks for your interest Kevin. I’m sure that you’ll appreciate the point that any kind of an opinion is, of course, a wholly subjective view.

    Just as it is your view (and apparently the view of ‘people’ you spoke to) that inLight did not deserve to win, it is our view (and the view of a significantly large number of people) that inLight are, as stated, probably the best unsigned indie music act in the UK.

    With regard to the Next Big Thing competition (which, of course, is not the point of this article), In my opinion it was very difficult to separate the three bands in terms of broad appeal – though I do feel sorry for the soloist because it is absolutely impossible to compare (say) a six-piece indie band with one girl and an acoustic guitar.

    The fact that you apparently have this ability is not lost on me.

    There were a number of factors that made the Next Big Thing almost impossible to judge – the major factor being, of course, a completely unbalanced sound system.

    However we haven’t reviewed the Next Big Thing, and I think it’s important to keep a sense of focus and perspective about this.

    But thanks, again, for your interest.

    n.b. (1):
    I’d like to apologise for taking so long to release your comment. We’re having some work done on the website and your post was caught in our spam queue.

    n.b. (2):
    Another comment was made on this review by a reader but it has been deleted as the name and the email address they gave were false. Unlike some areas of the media we are all for critical openness, but if people don’t have the balls to put their real name and email details then they’re not going to get published.

    Bren.