Oh Wonder are London based songwriting duo Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht, who craft and sing wispy, mostly slow-grooving, R&B-flecked tunes. Their self-titled debut album was released in September 2015, but Oh Wonder already had thousands of adoring fans waiting with open arms for them. Since then, Oh Wonder have become an online viral sensation, garnering millions of streams, and selling out venues in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, and New York City. 2017 saw the release of their sophomore album Ultralife, which only expanded on the ethereal synth-pop they successfully displayed on their accidental 2015 debut.
This Halloween saw Oh Wonder treat the people of Manchester to a dazzling performance of tracks from both their self-titled debut album and 2017’s Ultralife. After being on tour in the US for the last three months, Josephine exclaimed that whilst America has great food, ‘they don’t have beans’ and ‘it was ‘great to be home’. They kicked things off with Dazzle, followed by another 4 tracks from the first album, before bursting to life with Heavy, and High on Humans.
I think what really makes an Oh Wonder show is the undeniable, and heart warming chemistry that is so clear to see between the duo. Their radiance and charm is infectious, and they can capture the attention (and hearts) of a room of 2000 with ease. I first saw Oh Wonder at King Tut’s in Glasgow in 2015, there were no more than 200 people there and you could tell that the business of gigs was still an alien territory for Josephine and Ant. Flash-forward two years and they’re dominating rooms ten times the size with their shiny synth-pop and charm. Also, Josephine can DANCE.
Towards the end of the set we had All We Do, a track which Josephine dedicated to everyone in the audience with a dream, stating that ‘it’s okay to dream, it’s okay to fail, but what’s important is that you get right back up again and keep trying’. One of my favourite sounds in the entire world is the sound of a crowd at a gig singing along – so when Ant shouted that it was our turn, the room of 2600 people erupted into the track’s chorus of ‘I’ve been upside down, I don’t wanna be the right way round, Can’t find paradise on the ground’. I was genuinely stood there with my eyes full of tears and my mouth wide open in absolute awe.
A personal highlight of Oh Wonder‘s set was the lighting. I love lighting. If you’ve seen my bedroom, you’ll absolutely know this. I’m a bit like a moth. There were a lot of moments during this set where I was just completely astounded by the lighting, and I didn’t think it could possibly get any better than the flecks of technicolour (how fitting) during Technicolour Beat. However, the pair returned to the stage for their encore performances of Ultralife, and Drive, donning Superman and Superwoman costumes they’d impulse bought in the Arndale that day. Ant shouted ‘HAPPY HALLOWEEN MANCHESTER’ as the stage burst to life with the brightest flashes of rainbow as they bounced across the stage towards their instruments. Cue another moment of me being stood motionless in the crowd, eyes and mouth open wide as I stared at the brightly lit stage in wonderment.
The night came to a close, the big ‘OW‘ on the stage still illuminated, as myself and 2500 others left Manchester Academy that night grinning from ear to ear. I’m 100% convinced that the set I’d just seen was probably the best I’d witnessed throughout the whole of 2017. Fact.
Oh Wonder are still on tour in the UK until Wednesday with dates in Birmingham, Norwich, and Bristol, concluding with a hometown show at Brixton Academy. If you can get a ticket to any of these, GET ONE. I can guarantee that you won’t regret it.
They’ve also just been featured on a track with Lil Uzi Vert and Nicki Minaj (yes, really) called The Way Life Goes which samples Landslide from their 2015 debut album. It’s very different, but it’s still pretty good. I mean, it’s good if (like me) you like Lil Uzi and Nicki. If not, you may want to avoid this one. x