Date: Wednesday 18th December 2019
Venue: O2 Academy, Sheffield
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Having first discovered Hobo Johnson and The Lovemakers just before Leeds Festival 2019 through one of the artist playlists on Spotify, I was immediately drawn to ‘Peach Scone’ and how different it was to everything else that I had ever heard. With the track quickly becoming one of my most played it was much to my dismay that I wasn’t there on the day when he’d headline the Festival Republic Stage. Luckily for me with the release of his new album ‘The Fall of Hobo Johnson’ he announced a bunch of UK tour dates and with Sheffield O2 Academy being just over an hour’s drive away it was definitely a no brainer to pick up tickets. Somehow over the huge amount of gigs I’ve been to over the years I’d yet to attend one in Sheffield at all so it made for a fitting night to hear an artist that was so different in a venue that fitted the same bill.
As the sole support tonight it fell to Texas band Dayglow to open up the proceedings and set the tone for the night. Bringing their lo-fi indie vibes to start the night, whilst not a band that I’d usually be a fan of, they brought a sense of calm and the relaxed atmosphere across the O2 Academy this evening. It may have been pouring down outside but inside everything was warm and fluffy. ‘Listerine’ was a standout moment for me, the track sounded great and had the crowd singing along as they danced. The largest cheers from the set cameduring ‘False Direction’ when vocalist Sloane Struble swapped his guitar for a cowbell and went to town with a cowbell solo, it really went to show the passion that he put into the project. Title track from his album ‘Fuzzybrain’ also had the crowd swaying along and really showed just how well his debut album had been received and with the crowd dancing tonight they’d definitely won over a few new fans with his set. Not to just make tonight about their music, Dayglow also produced a cover of ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ by Tears for Fears which really showed where a lot of the inspiration from the band could have come from. As the band left the stage to a well-deserved thunderous applause, they had certainly made an impact on tonight’s crowd and really set the stage well for Hobo Johnson and The Lovemakers.
After a brief wait for the bands to change over, the sounds of Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’ blasted over the PA system and it was time for Hobo Johnson and The Lovemakers to take to the stage. After a brief introduction, the band launched straight into ‘Mover Awayer’ from the new album. As the chorus hit you could really feel the chaotic energy that these guys brought to the show. With the crowd shouting “You make my Mondays feel like Fridays” at a deafening level it was clear that tonight show was going to be a loud one. With longer gaps between each song it really allowed for the audience to build a rapport up with Frank and allowed for such discussions as the length of his shorts or whether or not Oasis were controlling the British government. With ‘Romeo and Juliet’ being second up there was a slight hiccup during the performance with Frank forgetting the words partway through. Luckily for him however, with his vulnerable stylings and meandering vocal lines it served as more of an endearment and was in fitting with the persona he gave off with his music. Notable moments came throughout the set with the band mixing up the stylings of tracks with both ‘Subaru Crosstrek XV’ and ‘Ode to Justin Beiber’ getting spoken word sections rather than their usual up tempo sections. This worked incredibly to show off the bands ability to perform tracks in new styles in their live settings while still retaining the punch that the original versions had. After a brief story about Frank’s “Love” of Croissants it was time for tonight’s biggest song and arguably the one that set off this whole movement – ‘Peach Scone’. With the crowd at full energy after a few slower tracks they sang the whole song word for word back onto the stage. “I love the thought of being with you, or maybe it’s the thought of just being alone…” rang out as the chorus hit and you could really feel the emotion in the air and the sense of relatability in the crowd which added to the songs impact.
Usually it would be hard to follow up on one of your biggest tracks but Hobo Johnson and The Lovemakers took that energy and through a brief cover of ‘A Thousand Miles’ by Vanessa Carlton amplified it massively. As the final few tracks came in it was ‘I Want A Dog’ that stood out to me as the final song. With its forward looking and dreaming it really showed how much of a storyteller Frank was and how much he could paint a picture of his future hopes and dreams whilst still keeping to his signature simplistic stylings. After a short moment of reflection after the band left the stage it was time for one last huzzah with newest single ‘Typical Story’ being played to finish the night of with one last party. Whilst I have spoken a lot about Hobo Johnson himself (or Frank to his family and friends). I can’t finish this review without pointing out just how incredible and put together the rest of The Lovemakers were with everyone putting in a phenomenal shift. Whether that was the breath-taking backing vocals provided by Jmsey with the ending to ‘An Ode…’ being one standout performance or the incredible keys and Guitars Jordan who was incredible throughout. It was clear that everyone on the stage put in an incredible performance and it really went to show with everyone leaving very satisfied at what they had just witnessed. Hopefully it won’t be too long before Hobo Johnson and The Lovemakers are back in the UK.