Rex Orange County @ The O2 Institute, Birmingham, UK – 27th September 2018

Review and photography by Robert Barrett

As I stood in the enormous queue outside the O2 Institute, I noticed the rare September sunset had turned a beautiful Peach colour. It seemed even the sky was excited for Rex Orange County’s sold out set tonight.

Finally I was in the venue. Excitement from the army of teenagers could be felt across every inch of the institute. Thankfully this meant bars were empty all night due to no one being old enough to to buy alchohol.

My only complaint of the night would be the lack of information regarding the set times. No one seemed to know what time Rex would be on. There was even a support act advertised who didn’t seem to show up. Thankfully, the young crowd kept themselves entertained by whooping and hollering at every appearance of the roadies.

The mass hysteria reached its peak as Rex Orange County took to the stage. Taking to the keyboard he launched into ‘Apricot Princess’. It was apparent that the band had complete control of the audience from the start. In fact the whole set was almost a live singalong featuring Rex Orange County. A chorus of teenage voices acted as Rex’s backing singers, phones up in the sky ensuring every snapchat and Instagram story was updated. This might turn off some people, but for me it just highlighted how the great lyrics resonate with the crowd.

“This is my first time in Birmingham” remarked Rex (real name Alex). The way he handled the crowd, and the constant switching of instruments you’d have thought he’d been at this for years. As per usual at his shows he brought out his girlfriend for a heart warming duet. For me though the highlight was when he stripped back the band to just him and his guitar. It was refreshing to see such pure talent and songwriting skill being enjoyed by so many. One of the best moments was the cover of Alicia Keys’ ‘No One’, which united everyone in a singsong. Were the crowd even born when the original came out? It really didn’t matter.

As the set came towards the end, Alex posed a question to the crowd. “Birmingham do you know how to jump up and down?”, the answer to that was yes. ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Best Friend’ saw the audience jumping in unison. The set closed off with ‘Loving is Easy’. Rex and the rest of the band left the stage with a smile. Let’s hope the first time wasn’t the last.

Setlist: Apricot Princess
Television/So Far So Good
Sycamore Girl
Waiting Room
No One (Alicia Keys cover)
A Song About Being Sad
Corduroy Dreams
Best Friend

(The original version of this article was first published on Gigjunkies

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