The last time I saw Scouting for Girls was at the Cornbury Festival a few years ago. And it was absolutely pouring with rain. Last night was no different, except the rain was in November (not July) and the gig was, thankfully, indoors at the O2 Academy on Cowley Road.
When we eventually found somewhere to park (driving was a mistake, especially early evening on a cold November's eve when nobody wants to walk anywhere or hang around for public transport) and walked through the icy rain to the venue, there was no queue to get in, but there were a handful of people at the box office, which is where we needed to collect our tickets from. So, already wet and cold, we stood in the now torrential rain while one lonely member of staff printed tickets for people rather slowly. I have to admit at this point any one of the pubs we'd walked passed was looking more and more attractive by the second. But finally, we were in, and with the amount of bodies milling around, we soon warmed up.
Unfortunately my partner and I had missed a lot of the support act due to traffic and parking issues, but we caught the last couple of tracks played by Mike Dignam, and thoroughly enjoyed them. He has a distinctive but very likeable voice, which lends itself beautifully to his mix of guitar-led pop-rock which on first listen reminds me slightly of a more upbeat version of the Arctic Monkeys' latest offerings, but he has also been likened to James Morrison and Jason Mraz. Either way, he is evidently very talented and has been quietly building a world-wide fan base over the last few years, both touring and online. When we left the venue he and his 'people' were handing out CDs and despite not having heard much of his set, we made sure to grab a copy and shake his hand in the process.
We didn't have to wait long after Dignam's set for the main attraction to come on stage, but we noticed something while we did. There were definitely a couple of dominant age groups filling the venue (apparently sold out); teenagers and their parents. The teens were crowding around by the stage area, while their parents (and I may be making a sweeping assumption in this observation) patiently waited towards the back of the venue, hovering around the seating and bar area. I'm getting too old to be fighting to get to the front of gigs, so we were happy to join the parents' brigade and enjoy the band from afar. They launched into the classic 'Heartbeat' as their opener and the crowd went wild, teens and parents alike (perhaps the parents were slightly more demure). The gig very much continued in the same way with their new material from the recent album 'Still Thinking About You' getting as much love and whooping as their more well-known tracks. Roy Stride is an excellent frontman, and knows how to get the crowd going and joining in even with the newer tracks. Indeed, the whole band seemed to be having as much fun as their fans were.
They finished as they had started – with the classic 'She's So Lovely' and we left the gig on a high with the wait in traffic, the hunt for a parking space and the trek through the downpour all but a distant memory, and very much worth the trouble.