Orson - Manchester Academy 2 - 30.5.06
"This was the first city we stepped our American asses on" announces Orson's uber-confident frontman Jason Pebworth. We know that in the age of PR scame and spin doctors that this is the one certainty. We know because we were actually there at 14 Lloyd Street as A&R men flung open their cheque books to get a part of the American Dream. And a very American Dream it is as Orson, 5 white boys from the hills of Hollywood bring us the sound of black America over to the UK just as we had sold it back to them all those years ago with The Rolling Stones. You can scout around the fact that there's a camp Scissor Sisters element, MOR such as Hall & Oates and even a Robbie Williams sized ballad in the form of "Look Around", but each song is based around an R&B heart, and we mean R&B as rhythm and blues not some shite from R Kelly.
Wearing exactly the same clothes we saw them in 8 months ago when they could literally only just afford the airfare over here and had to be back 3 days later for their day jobs before their annual allowance ran out. It's like a protective suit of armour as they're the same clothes they also wore on the Duran Duran European tour and no doubt the same they'll wear with Robbie Williams this summer. Little has changed from the days when Orson spent 8 years unsigned, well apart from sacking their longtime manager and hooking up with the people who look after Sugababes.
Like their UK counterparts the Feeling, Orson have with them a formidable set of songs that are starting to stand up as stadium anthems. It's no surprise to those who imported the album prior to the number 1 smash and grab of "No Tomorrows" that the very single that broke them in the UK is probably their weakest song in their arsenal by far. Much better is the follow up "Bright Idea", a song built around such a effortlessly bouncy bass line and almost reggae influence. "Happiness" is a same of the song mold with a spectral guitar line leading up to the heavens. It's the Elton John influenced ballad "Look Around" which will really take on a world of it's own after the Robbie tour, unless he did what he did with Embrace and re-writes the song as the follow up to "Angels".
When Designer Magazine first saw Orson there was a confidence and professionalism that comes after playing together for 8 years, but now with the audience there for them they look set to live out their stadium dreams and unlike the Darkness when it got to this stage it doesn't feel like a hollow promise. What made the Darkness great was they were small town band trying to be a stadium band and it worked when they were unknown, once they reached their goal the very point of them existing vanished. With Orson it's a natural manoeuvre and success is very much their own.
Photos: Karen McBride www.karenmcbride.com
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