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The Jazz Butcher Press Nightshift (Oxford, UK) - May, 2005
Gig review: 2005-04-14
Nightshift (Oxford, UK)
May, 2005

Credit: Art Lagun

Source: nightshift.oxfordmusic.net
The New Moon are a familiar-looking local duo. Their lively, pacey songs are a bit too 80s-like in their use of wacky word-play and funny chord changes, trying to come over a bit too clever and knowing. Nice bass from a fella who looks like Barney Sumner but sounds like Peter Hook, but they need something extra to make the leap from pub duo to a proper band. If it's wackiness you're after, then Anton Barbeau turns the wackometer up to 11. Apparently quite well known in his native Sacramento, he's produced eight albums of intelligent, offbeat country-tinged pop with a heavy, and openly acknowledged, debt to XTC. Curiously, he acts like a returning hero playing to a packed stadium whereas he is of course, addressing a crowd who've never heard of him, in the smallest venue in town. Look beyond the hyperactive showmanship and there's a real song-writing talent here. If he could calm down a bit, he might come across more Andy Partridge and less Kenny Everett.

The Jazz Butcher, AKA Pat Fish, lived here as a student and his May morning busking sessions outside the Radcliffe Camera are still fondly remembered by many. Twenty years on and he's hardly changed a jot, from the foppish haircut to the magpie-like collection of classic pop influences. He introduces his set as a karaoke session, which takes the form of an electric guitar, a backing track and a trip through the catalogues of such luminaries as Lou Reed, Wings and er, Grandmaster Melle Mel. Fun though this is, we could have done with more than the solitary Jazz Butcher song, as he has always been savagely underrated. It's all over too soon but great to see him back.

the black watch (no capitals for them) is, tonight, main man John Andrew Frederick on his lonesome. Another Californian with a love of classic British pop, he's combined a career as an English professor with a sporadic output of seven albums over eighteen years. Well-crafted pop gems in the style of Robyn Hitchcock and our own Jazz Butcher flow effortlessly forth, but there's a certain unmistakeable American expansiveness. Though bigger on the enthusiasm than variety, new single "Innercity Garden" has the makings of a summer anthem.

Tonight's theme has been well-crafted pop with elaborate, imaginative lyrics. Throw in the free black watch single and you've got the bargain of the month.

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