20/11/2010 | Leah Mason – O2 Academy, Oxford

Lisa Ward

It was Dot To Dot Festival when Leah Mason first bowled me over with her ability to fuse pop-esque vocals over rock driven melodies. Since then she seems to have vanished into the ether despite being managed by a major team. My confusion at the fact she’s not yet a household name seems to be somewhat trebled then, when tonight she’s not headlining the bill despite all listing suggesting she was. Mason you see, is something of a more rocked up version of Lissie, a name who has taken the UK charts by storm and I expected this to act as the catapult to send her to a similar height.

Tonight’s performance further confounds this wonder at the industry, because Mason set gives everything the audience want. Pumped up melodies with just enough commercial viability to spring her to the mainstream and just enough guts to make them unique, combine with her vocal prowess to draw you in with an instant punch. She’s distinctively grungy enough to be cool, which coupled with her striking guitar refrains, fuels a set full of passion.

Whilst Fool Me Around oozes her youth (she is after all just 19) whilst Run Clear offers a more gusty track, which is driven by a drummer who realises that sometimes more is less in the beat department. Mason you see is backed by several others, who each in turn add welcoming diversity to the set. Whilst it’s undoubtedly the front woman’s talent which drives the who thing forward, it’s the entirety of the band who culminate to create a sounds that is not too dissimilar to Paramore, minus the angst. Mason does acoustic too and whilst this doesn’t get the crowd so ignited it makes a welcome break from the full frontal assault that she brings with her electric.

Whilst new song Toes suggests that she’s firmly grounding herself in the more rock based genre older tracks such as Waiting On A Good Day still carry their weight. Mason blew me away once before and tonight confirms it wasn’t by chance. Despite the audience being somewhat sparse, the set is packed with punch and vitality and it’s fair to say if the rest of the world catches on as quickly as those who witness tonight, it won’t be long before she’s selling out.

www.myspace.com/leahmasonmusic