25/04/2010 | Alphabeat – O2 Academy, Oxford

Lisa Ward

Only a band like Alphabeat could divide the prepubescent front row kids from their obliging parents, with a sea of drunken twenty-something year olds. Despite a short set, they successfully pack it full to brimming with their retro 80’s style pop songs, trumping it only with their Ritalin requiring energy. Whilst Stein pays homage to the bands roots, sporting a vinyl laced hat, Anders is happily the most enthusiastic tambourine man known to date, leading his band mates through an all-singing, all-dancing show with fun at its heart.

It is perhaps the audiences’ reaction that stands as the best measure of their new songs. Whilst the band pump out the classic oldies, challenging even the most straight laced to keep their feet still, it’s only the club loving students in the middle of the floor who seem to embrace the new. As the youngest tentatively shuffle their feet at the front of the stage attempting to feel the vibe, they are outdone by their elders, who seem to adopt the Ibiza driven numbers with greater ease.

This party atmosphere continues throughout the night and even when Anders deliberately tries to calm the mood, introducing What Is Happening? As ‘good for all that boyfriend, girlfriend stuff, like holding hands, kissing cheeks and touching hair’ the audience seem to have none of it. Instead, they lift their arms into a sea of waving, as if to defy the front man’s advice and this continues throughout the night, onlookers happy to embrace reckless abandon, dancing until they drop.

Whilst 10,000 Nights still receives a rapturous response, despite no one really understanding how the Danes liken love to a lift, new song Chess sees things take a nose dive. Live, it has more energy that it’s recorded counterpart, but it still lacks the punch of Fantastic Six and even the band seem somewhat subdued as they meander their way through its repetitive refrains. In fact, the only new song which creates a small glimmer of hope that Alphabeat haven’t totally abandoned their melodic pop ways, is their next single DJ which opens itself up as an instantly likable song.

It goes without saying that Fascination was undoubtedly the highlight of the evening. Whilst it has to be noted the band over-egged the repeating of the opening sequence, forcing a muttering of faci-f**ki-nation from a few peoples lips, it still stands as a marker of Alphabeat’s ability.  Uniting young and old with the rhythm of pop, the Danes might have opted for a less family friendly second album, but there’s no denying when performed live, every song has dance at its heart.

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