Kind of a new one, this… after a slew of oldies, it was time to check out a new band – the excellently monikered Get Cape Wear Cape Fly (yes, I admit I only checked them out in the first place because of the name!), the pseudonym of one Sam Duckworth, an earnest young singer-songwriter whose naggingly intense set of bedroom studenty angst, "The Chronicles Of A Bohemian Teenager", slipped into my Top 10 CDs of 2006 at the death.
So, Rachel and I headed off to Brookes (never our favourite venue, but hey, it’s Oxford on a Saturday night), finding it easier this time despite city centre roadworks. Got a drunk before first band, The All New Adventures Of Us, joined us at 7.45. With 8 majorly superfluous band members, they were as cumbersome as their name suggests, and after a reasonable, Death Cab meets Del Amitri start, they faded into over-elaborate pastoral nonsense. Yawn.
Got a pleasant surprise in the lobby; found out Walter Schreifels was on the bill! We’d seen Schreifels, former Rival Schools vocalist, wandering around Berlin (where the merch man said he lives these days) in the Autumn, so was intrigued by this set. So we popped in for his 8.30 arrival; "Hi, I’m Walter Schreifels, which in German means ‘screaming rock’," went his intro, and thereafter Schreifels delivered a more straightforward, upbeat and optimistic set than the often dense, dour driving rock of Rival Schools days. No, these were songs about getting your bicycle mended, how to cheer up depressed friends, and other minutae. In fact, the only disappointment was "Used For Glue", possibly my favourite Rival Schools song, but slightly jarring and out of context in this upbeat set. A hastily assembled band of roadies, christened "Blimey And The Guv’nors" by Schreifels, ended the set with highlight "Arthur Lee’s Lullaby". Great stuff.
So, what could Get Cape Wear Cape Fly do to follow that? Well, the set was just as much a triumph, but for different reasons. From the outset of his performance, it was apparent that this young man was preaching to the devoutly converted. The raw, passionate delivery, over stripped back acoustics, of his CD had led me to dub him the British Dashboard Confessional, an opinion reinforced tonight as his crowd sang along to pretty much all his songs! Young Duckworth proved to be a young man with a lot to say, both in his songs and between them. We were treated (!) to oratories about Fair Trade, racism and the Irish conflict, which drew comparisons with Bono’s similar tub-thumping, yet also an appreciation of where he’d come from and the issues facing his generation, which underlined the real sense of connection and community between himself and his largely student audience.
Any overt preachiness was however redeemed by the music – tougher "live", this was an excellent, uplifting set, my highlight being final encore "War Of The Worlds", in which young Sam conducted the mass singalong from the stage, before we hit the road whilst he basked in a deserved ovation. Spokesman for his generation? The kids these days could do a lot worse than Get Cape Wear Cape Fly!