The Oval Tavern

Oval Road, Croydon

6th November 2021

We first met this band at the annual Liverpool International Pop Overthrow Festival a good many moons ago and after seeing them for a couple of successive years, we became friends and take the chance when we can, to see them play outside the IPO universe.

A 4 piece of drums, keyboard, guitar (more often than not, a jangly 12 string) and bass, Spygenius are a mix of powerpop, surf, pysch, jangle pop and a little nod to ska with a good dose of all round fun thrown in. They have a good back catalogue of original material and are just about to launch their next CD, all recorded during the Covid lockdown on phones and laptops before being expertly spliced together to give what is an album of pretty fine versions of an eclectic mix of covers.

Tonight's gig was a solid straight 2 hours without a break, which just flew by and included older material alongside their more recent songs. A strength of this band is that all four members sing so the backing for the lead vocal is very strong. The older songs sounded really great so we will be digging those CDs out again to give them another listen. The sound was really good to the extent that we could actually hear all of the words, rather then them being buried in the overall mix, as tends to happen at the IPO venues. And it is important to hear the words being sung by this band, as the lyrics are invariably very clever and intellectual. Then you get the catchy "Pineapple Drive" which is basically infectious fun which you can't help tapping your feet to and bopping in your seat.

A couple of stand out songs tonight were "Cafe Emery Hill" which would sit very comfortably on a Ray Davies/Kinks record and "Get Over Yourself". And did we get "Dumb Angels" at the end of one song? That 4 piece vocal harmony was lovely.

Mid way through the set, a sombre but touching tone befell the band as they did a song recorded by The Jazz Butcher, an 80's indie band headed by Pat Fish who recently passed away, and was known to the band. A fitting tribute.

What we know as "The Shouty Song" is a firm favourite of ours, giving the bass player the chance to offload the bass and become a punk star for a couple of minutes. Pure brilliant and another song with great lyrics and was a powerful way to end the night.

The Oval boasts of being passionate about live music and they certainly do have a full schedule. Tonight the place was as full as it could be considering that the pub is still not allowing standing and we were glad we reserved a table. There was a mix of locals and friends of the band, resulting in a great atmosphere and appreciative audience.

We are so glad that live music is back.

Click HERE for the Spygenius website

Goofing around at the end