”It’s difficult to know who was to blame for the lack of a substantial crowd at this gig. Maybe it was down to a lack of publicity. Regardless, it would be very difficult to lay it at Christopher Owens’ feet – it was one hell of a performance”
Despite a consistently high level of output, Christopher Owens has found it hard to maintain the buzz since the end of Girls, and his gig in the Stanley Theatre can be seen as clear evidence of such a fact. For an artist of his size I don’t think I’ve been at a gig with a smaller crowd. It’s difficult to know who was to blame for the lack of a substantial audience at this gig. Maybe it was down to a lack of publicity. Regardless, it would be very difficult to lay it at Christopher Owens’ feet – it was one hell of a performance. Besides that, having seen him before in London last year at a sold out gig, it would be a stretch to suggest that there isn’t any sort of interest in his recent albums or for the Girls’ albums before that.
One of the highlights of the night was Christopher’s support act – a relatively unknown artist from Middlesbrough called Corey Bowens. Having spoken to Christopher before the gig we found out that he had found Corey through Twitter and that he was more excited than anyone to see him perform live. This was only the second time that Corey and his band had played together and, as such, there were still kinks in the performance to be ironed out. However, that said, considering this was only the second time they had played together, his performance was astonishing. To quote Christopher – “The songs are there, he has a great voice. It’s all there”. For a man as discerning as Christopher Owens to lavish such praise on someone is extremely impressive. His songs were a mish-mash of early 90s influences spanning from the shoegaze of bands like Ride and My Bloody Valentine to the early baggy sounds of Madchester.
Once Christopher’s set started, what you can safely say is that, despite the tiny crowd, and when I say tiny, I mean tiny – I’ve been to a Rolo Tommassi gig on a Tuesday with a bigger crowd – he gives it his all and doesn’t let any of the emotion of his tracks escape. He’s assisted by two wonderfully gifted gospel singers (Skyler Jordan and Traci Nelson) who worked with him while he was Girls, and they lend incredible power to Owens’ fragile, vulnerable voice. This combination worked beautifully well throughout the set and in particular on the track ‘Vomit’ and the finale ‘Hellhole Ratrace’, both Girls’ songs. Strangely, Owens chose not to play a single track of his previous solo album Lysandre despite it being relatively successful. While it can be argued that that album is meant to work as a whole, surely the crowd would have appreciated hearing ‘Here We Go’ or ‘Here We Go Again’, both of which were relatively popular songs when released. Regardless, to hear Girls’ songs again was something I (a huge Girls’ fan before they ended) enjoyed immensely and I imagine could be the sole reason for many people to come to one of his gigs. This isn’t to suggest that his new material isn’t up to scratch, but more due to the phenomenal strength of the albums he released with Girls.
Despite the lack of Lysandre tracks, the gig was superb and was deserving of a far, far, far larger audience than it received. I feel privileged to have seen this calibre of performance in such intimate circumstances, especially when the last time I ‘saw’ him, I was sat behind the ridiculously tall Faris Badwan (singer of The Horrors) and thus didn’t see much, and the venue had been absolutely packed. Maybe it’s hype, maybe this world is just jam-packed with posers, or maybe there just wasn’t enough publicity. Anyhow, I give the gig 893.23 out of 920 and Corey a gold star for his efforts. Go music!