Review: Graham Coxon kick-starts Oxjam launch week
Coxon stops by Dalston's Oxfam store
John Bownas - 25 September 2012
Oxjam isn't just about big name acts playing sweaty intimate gigs in Oxfam shops.
Which raises the question, why are 200 perspiring people here in Dalston, East London, packed amongst racks of old CDs and shoes, waiting to see Graham Coxon play beneath a large Oxjam banner?
The answer is that this is the first of a series of Oxjam Festival launch parties.
Because throughout October, there will be around 40 towns across the length and breadth of the country hosting hundreds of stages and thousands of acts - all with the focus on 'local'.
Local music. Global impact.
Every event that is staged will be run entirely by volunteers. Bands will be forgoing any fees they would normally charge. Venues will be donating a percentage of bar takings. Raffles will be held. Auctions will be staged. Wristbands will be sold. Lots of money will be raised for charity.
But it's not about the big names, It's about showcasing the huge wealth of talent that exists in the UK music scene. Talent that spans every age and genre and that deserves to be heard.
So although there may be the odd headline name here and surprise performance there it 's more than likely that this week's launch parties will be the only Oxjam related shows that feature household name acts.
Household name acts like presenter, compere and, tonight, nominee for worst-dressed-man, Shaun Keaveny.
"You'll recognise me from 6 Music," he announces so a mild round of gentle applause.
"Oh well, at least three of you will..."
Keaveny doesn't ram the charity angle of the event down people's throats (Oxjam will probably raise £600,000 for humanitarian aid projects this year) - but he does point out that tonight would be a good time to buy some second hand vinyl or a nice used coat.
So first up before the mighty Coxon it's relative newcomers, Theme Park, with a three-piece acoustic set that sparkles in places and coasts in others. It's an up-beat slice of calypso-pop-funk.
They are humbled to be here, and front-man Marcus Haughton nervously laughs at how, when Oxjam had said they would be excited to have the band play, the band reckoned they were far more excited to be supporting Graham Coxon.
Graham Coxon. A bit of a legend of course, and actually as it turns out one of the best choices Oxjam have ever made for a celebrity launch gig.
Tonight he's on form, and on a stage framed by old books an rammed into the corner of a venue no bigger than some of the nicer dressing rooms he will have frequented he ambles capably through a mixed set that swaps from old-school Blur-esque Brit-pop to beautiful slabs of wall-of-noise guitar drone.
Banter with the audience is warm and friendly - and mainly in response to the occasional gentle jibe.
"You're not selling that to me," laughs one crowd member as Coxon mumbles about how they are trying out a new song on crowds right now.
"I don't do the selling stuff," he explains, "I leave that to the suits."
But what Coxon is selling tonight is an idea. The idea that music can change lives. Like Keaveny, he's not forcing it onto people. But he's clearly happy to be here. And at the end of the night outside the venue he's more than happy to pose with the organiser of the Croydon Oxjam event, with arms around each other's shoulders as they hold up a banner proclaiming the range of venues that will be hosting bands in the south London town between 18 and 20 October.
Across the country the dates of these big 'takeover' events varies, but they are all through October, one things stays the same - they are all worth being a part of.
Graham Coxon set-list:
Running for your Life
What'll it Take?
You and I
Girl Done Gone
Ohh Yeh Yeh
No Good Time
Find out about your local Oxjam event and how to get involved at www.oxfam.org.uk/oxjam