The Oxford Art Factory is close to full while first performer of the night, Oliver Tank, plays an interesting but somewhat quiet set. The sound on stage doesn’t fade between songs, so all of them blend together nicely. He finishes the set off with single ‘Up All Night’, which gets a positive reception; it’s just a shame that people’s conversations are carrying and can be heard over his voice.
Caitlin Park is next and her uniqueness is unfortunately lost on a lot of people in the crowd. Again, more are concerned with their own conversations rather than paying attention, which is a shame, because it detracts from the set. Accompanied by Eliza Fawcett, who is performing beat-boxing and hand-clapping duties, Caitlin breezes through the set and urges us to buy one of her CDs. Not only for the music but also for a “film fact” – there’s one in every CD. They tell us Active Child’s sound-check “blew them away,” and leave us waiting in anticipation.
Active Child start their set with ‘You Are All I See’, the title track from their 2011 album. Pat Grossi wastes no time in winning our attention and our hearts with his amazing voice and beautiful harp playing to match.
Well-known single ‘Hanging On’ makes its appearance early, something that surprised me. It’s played perfectly and all are enthralled at the beauty and passion it’s delivered with. Grossi soon moves onto a keyboard and while his harp playing is faultless, he looks more comfortable behind the keyboard.
The sound cannot be criticised, every instrument fits together flawlessly and though the walls are vibrating from the bass, it doesn’t drown Grossi’s voice or his harp at any stage. The set moves through songs from You Are All I See and we’re also treated to ‘Take Shelter’ from older EP Curtis Lane. The band’s mood on stage changes when they play it and more confidence shines through their performance.
Grossi comments it’s “hot as fuck” which prompts the reply “Take your shirt off!” from audience members. Grossi says he’s leaving it on because there would be “too many freckles for one audience.”
Though ‘Hanging On’ was probably the song most were waiting to see, it’s ‘See Thru Eyes’ that’s the stand out of this set. Every instrument on stage vibrates and resonates; Grossi’s voice is the best it’s been all night.
They play an encore to the audience calling for “One more song!” and leave us to reflect on the heartfelt lyrics and deeply moving music we heard.