American Aquarium at the Oslo 9th February 2023

Helen PocockReviewsLeave a Comment

Last Thursday night we finally saw the long-awaited return of American Aquarium to the UK, more specifically to The Oslo in Hackney. The show had been rescheduled two or three times due to the pandemic.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen The Oslo that busy and definitely not on a weeknight. There was certainly a buzz around the place, and what they were in store for was an absolute treat.

Opening up for the boys was East Texas, Nashville resident, Kirby Brown, who seemed to delight the audience. he delivered a set comprising of original songs about his life experiences and observations, dispatched with a considerable amount of wit, showcasing tracks from his latest album ‘Break into Blossom’ and his debut album ‘Uncommon Prayer’. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout the duration of his captivating set.

If you’ve not heard of him already, I recommend checking out this very talented young man. He warmed the crowd up perfectly for what was to come.

With the waiting done, and a real London roar delivered to accompany the boys on to the stage, American Aquarium opened the set with the title track from the latest album, the sombre, ‘Chicamacomico’.  

The guys proceeded to indulge us with a mixture of old and new tracks spanning the entire career to date of the band, including tracks like the huge crowd favourite ‘Witchita Falls’, and, ‘The Losing Side of Twenty-Five’ (Wolves), ‘Lonely Ain’t Easy’ and one of my own personal favourites, ‘Casualties’ and “Jacksonville’ all from ‘Burn.Flicker.Die’ and the absolutely gorgeous, ‘Six Years Come September’ and the anthemic “The Luckier You Get’ (Lamentations). I’m compelled to give a big shout out to “The Long Haul’ which is now one a huge favourite of mine. They even treated us to ‘Katherine Belle” (2009’s Dances for the Lonely).

Now band members have come and gone over the years and it should always be remembered that American Aquarium is BJ Barham, this incarnation of the band, with the exception of Shane, who joined in 2017, the remainder of the current line-up have been in the band since 2019. I believe that this line-up is the line-up that BJ is at his happiest with.

These guys are a bunch of top musicians, at the recent Mile-0 Fest in Key West, Florida, they assumed the role of house band, that gives you an indication of just how good Shane, Rhett, Neil, Ryan and Alden are. I was lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time chatting to them before the show so I can say, hand on heart, that these are a bunch of real gentlemen as well, who are only too happy and sit and chat about pretty much anything.

American Aquarium’s live show is something really special, night after night, town after town, state after state, these guys give 110% every single time. The energy and synergy that they display is quite something to behold. BJ’s songwriting is going from strength to strength. His voice is getting stronger and stronger with age, sounding somewhere between Springsteen and Jagger.

This band is the real deal, and they need to be seen live. What are you waiting for? Get out there and go see them wherever you are. I promise you won’t be disappointed, with the amount of shows they do each year, you’ll have another chance soon this side of the pond, fingers crossed!

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