Review by Cain Suleyman with Photography by Joe Burrows

Two years ago I saw the incredibly talented Rex Orange County at the Peckham Liberal Club for the release of first studio album, Apricot Princess. The venue held just over a hundred people and the tickets only cost a tenner. When he walked onto the stage he gave a hint of a smile but it seemed there was a slight sense of nervousness to his being. After a few songs, he settled in when he realised that most of the people in his line of sight were friends from school and he played a very cool and calm show for us all.

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So what’s changed in two years? Oh. Nothing much. Just sell out headline shows across the world, huge festival slots such as Glastonbury, Cochella and Flog Gnaw, and another huge album that has bagged him 3 sold out nights at London’s iconic Brixton Academy. But, this huge rise to larger levels of fame must be difficult for him if he was slightly nervous for a small show in Peckham to his friends. Well, no actually. He struts onto the stage shaking his head in disbelieve. Thousands of screaming fans all there to see HIM. Everyone’s eyes are on HIM. He holds his hands over his mouth as he seems overwhelmed at just how much he has accomplished in the space of two years. He strolls over to the keys, sits down, takes a cheeky second glance at the audience, and strikes a chord.

10/10 is the first song to sweeten our ears and as soon as it hit the people, everyone was singing along. Rex’s voice cuts right through and you instantly get sent into a daze. It’s difficult to concentrate on anything else when you’ve got someone singing songs that you can relate to so much. After a short while, the song restarts with a backdrop falling down to reveal his extensive band. He whips the mic off the stand and completely owns the stage as he seems to personally sing to every spectator in site.

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I think that’s one thing that’s particularly impressive about the talent that is Rex OC. He’s got that ability to speak to everyone on some level. The songs he writes really connect to experiences that every single person has been through.

Every Way is no exception. Just the opening lyric is something that everyone can relate to. “I care about you in every way I can”. Tears can be seen from everyone in the room as we experience a rare moment where far fewer people are screaming the words. Not because they don’t know them, but because it’s a song that plays with your heart strings that everyone wants to experience. His voice on the album sounds amazing, but to see him sing this song live is something else. A pure, honest and emotional sound stops everyone dead in their tracks.

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Before long, the solo relaxed section of the night comes to a close and he takes to the guitar to sing Best Friend. It’s an extremely fun moment in any of his gigs but tonight just felt a little bit more special tonight on the dawn of his latest album release and to a sold out show in one of the UK’s most legendary venues. He asks everyone to put their phones down so “only we know what is going on” during the song. Surprisingly, everyone does this before we descend into chaos with everyone screaming the lyrics to completely overpower and overwhelm the commender on stage. You can’t stand still during this song. It’s so fun and uplifting and everyone can be seen with a huge grin on their faces.

It’s a night that no one wants to end, but is finished with Always. It a lovely slow dance that has people with lighters in the air and screaming the soulful melodies as a farewell to an artist who has got it right. Thank you Rex Orange County for an incredible night of music. I’m sure you will be seen soon.

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