Live review: We Are Scientists at the Academy

Music

New York-based indie duo We Are Scientists kicked off their latest tour, TV en Français, at Oxford’s O2 Academy this month. The show marked the beginning of an epic three-month run for the band, which takes them across the world: from the UK, they’re due to head to mainland Europe, followed by North America and finally Australia.

The crowd at the O2 Academy was certainly thrilled to be a part of the first step in this journey for We Are Scientists. Despite a somewhat empty floor throughout The Heartbreaks (first support) and a slightly busier crowd for second support act Superfood, the Academy was absolutely packed by the time the headliners appeared. It was nice to see a slightly more mature crowd, lacking an army of young teenagers and giving way to the young adults, who undoubtedly followed We Are Scientists in their noughties heyday.

Despite some of the more negative reviews of TV en Français coming in, the band still played an assortment of their latest songs – and, more importantly, played them well. The band showed their obvious ease with their new music, opening with the new song ‘Return the Favour’, before playing a good two-thirds of their new album with as much skill and polish as the songs they’ve been playing for the last nine years – an impressive effort. The crowd certainly loved the mix, and although the latest album had been released for all of two days, there was a large proportion who were at least familiar with the newer material. It was obvious that this warm reception at their first gig since the album dropped meant a lot to both Keith Murray and Chris Cain. The band’s certified Gold album With Love and Squalor made a predictably large appearance on the setlist, to an audience that was incredibly familiar with the songs that springboarded We Are Scientists’ career.

Although they had just arrived from a small acoustic set at Truck Music Store, We Are Scientists still managed to give their performance their all, which is exceptionally impressive when you take into account that the band played 19 songs in their set and maintained a high level of musical delivery. The duo, accompanied by a very talented drummer, ensured that the gig remained lively and dynamic, making good use of the vast stage space and interacting with each other naturally. They also lived up to their reputation as a force of humour to be reckoned with, and between songs their engagement with the audience was excellent. The rapport and one liners coming from the band members suggest that, should their musical skill and great live performances stop, a career in stand-up may be on the cards for the pair of them.