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Lawson - O2 Academy, Oxford, 16/3/2013

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 29 / 3 / 2013

Lawson - O2 Academy, Oxford, 16/3/2013


Nick Dent-Robinson watches boy band Lawson play a formulaic and strictly-by-numbers set at the O2 Academy in Oxford

I fail to qualify for Lawson's typical fan demographic - I am not female and am over the age of 15 – but curiosity encouraged me to accept an invitation to see this wildly popular band play their sold-out gig at the O2 Academy in Oxford. Long before Lawson took to the stage I suspected this might not be my kind of thing. The audience was almost entirely girls in their early teenage years, constantly screaming and photographing everything...the set, security staff but mainly themselves. I stood at the rear of the auditorium feeling safer amongst the small number of parents, grandparents, boyfriends and other reluctant attendees gathered there. As the band appeared the shrillness of the audience's welcome was terrifying! For those older than 15 I should just mention that Lawson are a pop-rock band comprising four inoffensive but slightly slick guys playing equally inoffensive, slightly slick music. 'Chapman Square', their debut album, soared into their charts, and one of their singles,'When She Was Mine', has achieved an incredible seven million views on YouTube. They have sold out venues across the UK and are about to tour Europe where seats are also selling staggeringly well. So, Lawson are popular. At Oxford the band's members, however, didn't seem unduly thrilled by any of this. They looked like people just going through the motions as they bashed out their hit numbers. The music is impressively commercial, though formulaic. Bland but with just enough variation to keep young fans interested plus there are anthemic sing-along choruses the fans all seemed to know by heart. To me, each song sounded like the last with a recurring theme of getting dumped by a former lover. It got boring very fast and half an hour later I couldn't recall a single melody or lyric. The band rarely spoke to their audience. When finally they did it was just to say, “This is one of the best nights of our tour,” which was greeted with a predictable cacophony of squealing. But to me this utterance was just...insincerity, cliché, a line said because it sells. Lawson's material has been cleverly designed to sell to the lucrative young teen girl market. It all just feels rather fake. The band clearly have some ability, though. What a shame they couldn't focus their energy and skills into making something with more heart, soul and integrity. They might even look as if they were enjoying themselves then. But maybe this wouldn't sell as well. And there's no doubting the astounding commercial success Lawson are experiencing...for the moment, at least.

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