Another mid-week treat awaited us at the O2 Academy on Cowley Road, in the form of the silken-voiced be-dreaded Newton Faulkner. But first we had to fight our way through the traffic, roadworks, cyclists, pedestrians and then somehow find a parking spot. All I can do is recommend that if you are going to the O2 to see someone as well-known and popular as festival-favourite Newton Faulkner, get there early.
We managed to park on a residential street about a mile away and arrived before the first support, Ben Roberts, so it all worked out in the end. We were treated to a gentle set from the Leeds-based musician and his guitar, which warmed the growing audience up nicely. His sound reminded me a bit of surfer-singer Jack Johnson (remember him?!) and he would be a welcome addition to any summer music festival, whether it be our very own Cornbury or perhaps something by the sea, like Boardmasters.
After a quick changeover our second support act was welcomed to the stage by the still-growing audience. I See Rivers are a Liverpool-based three-piece who harken from various parts of Norway. In their own words they describe their style as 'Float Folk', which I'll admit I've never heard of, but is a pretty accurate description of their set last night. With a quirky, floaty mixture of harmonies accompanied by chilled-out melodies, reminiscent of Sigur Ros and Fleet Foxes, the trio had the Oxford audience in the palm of their hands by the end of their all-too-brief set.
After what seemed like a very long wait our headline act arrived onto the stage to a huge cheer from the now full venue. Touring his latest album Human Love Newton looked completely at ease on stage and performed a pleasing mix of old favourites and new soon-to-be favourites to a very appreciative crowd. As with Ben Roberts, I would love to see his set performed at an outdoor venue, at one of the festivals he can often be found at; he performs in such a laid-back way, his music providing an air of optimism and joy that just made me want to don a flower garland and dance barefoot in the grass. His own special combination of light-hearted pop and occasionally emotional lyrics marks him out as a very special musician, and one I can only urge people to see perform live.