Ollie Wride: ‘Once In a Lifetime’ – A live review
Back in November of 2019 (a time that seems a lifetime ago) many of us braved the cold, windy streets of Camden to join Mr Ollie Wride at this debut solo show. Those of you who were there will recall the energy and excitement in the room as Mr Wride presented himself and his body of new music the world. For many of us, it was the last time we attended a real gig with real people. As night’s go, it not only showed us all some great music, but it brought people together.
So fast forward to March of 2021, a changed world, a world without live music, a world with masks and elbow bumps as an affectionate greeting. A world of live streams. In the UK, this past week has brought the anniversary of lockdown and so these last 12 months have been full to the brim with live streamed DJ sets and gigs from home studios or space spaces in their houses but it hasn’t been the same.. Ollie himself has brought us a mix of live gigs at the piano as well as impromptu Instagram chats and sharing of new material.. But Saturday the 27th March 2021 was something very different.
‘Once in a Lifetime’ was announced in early March of this year. Ollie was going to be taking to the very stage he should have done in April of 2020 – Lafayette in London to film a one off, no repeat gig. That is all we knew. The build up was intense as we saw snippets of clearly a larger band set up and extremely high production values – We were in for something special.
‘Once In a Lifetime’ Premiered at 6pm GMT to a bustling chatroom of fans from the UK and elsewhere excited to finally see what Mr Wride brought us. Lafayette came into shot as a beautifully lit space. Multiple camera set ups allowed us to really get a feeling for the room and the stage set up. Our ears were treated to an original piece of intro music that has been worked on by UK Producer Sunglasses Kid. It was cinematic and different to SKs more public works of late, however fitting for such as occasion as the camera followed the suited Ollie down the corridor of Lafayette and out onto the stage.
The first huge difference is that this time Ollie is joined on stage by many more people. On Drums were his long time friend James Cross, who we will all recognise from the Camden show in 2019. A new addition were backing vocalists Obi Franky and Yasmin Ogilvie, the latter of whom also brought a sax to the party. Finally there was Elliot Coombs on the guitar, synth and also bring the backing vocal support. The band were all here and draped in darkness as Ollie emerged on stage. The introductory track quickly merged into The Driver, one of Ollie’s early releases from the ‘Thanks in Advance’ album. Elliot’s guitar was present from the get go as that recognisable track intro kicked in and the stage suddenly came to life with Ollie’s on-point vocals.
It was clear from the start that this production was next level in terms of live streams.. Immediately it felt quite emotional to hear and see live music in this way. Music means so much to everyone that is reading this and gigs are such an important part of that. As much as I have enjoyed artist live streams and at-home work, Ollie’s set up and this production were far beyond expectations but also exactly what we would expect from a man who knows what he wants!
The Driver passed in a haze of light and sound as viewers were taking in what they were experiencing. Yasmin also brought the welcomed addition of some soft sax to the track which immediately proved the versatility of Ollie’s song writing and arrangements. These subtle additions and new mixes of tracks were to strong themes of the evening.
Juliette was next. A track that was released in 2020 and so had not yet had the live treatment. The juxtapositional nature of the track with its bittersweet lyrics and upbeat arrangement was ever more amplified by the live treatment it was given on stage. The entire band on stage elevated the track from its studio version. The drumming was excellent and the guitar additions were just so strong. Yasmin and Obi, clearly fantastic choices, were not just fulfilling the existing backing vocals that exist on the track, they exceed them and their talent was there to hear. Wonderful stuff. It would be remiss of me not to highlight that for a track that has a strong synth presence in the original version, Ollie and the band’s arrangement was quite different. It was truly a live performance that utilised the talent of every person on that stage.
Third on the list as the 2020 summer smash hit Stranger Love. We has been treated to an early live version of this track (co-written with Sunglasses Kid) at Olli’s debut live show. Since then it’s had over a million plays on youtube and has found itself in a ‘Made in Chelsea’ episode. Stranger Love’s recognisable hooks were all there as Ollie took to the piano and James’ beastly drumming carried us through. That middle 8 was exactly as everyone would have hoped and as Ollie brought it home we again had the welcomed addition of some subtle sax which tied the track up wonderfully.
Next Ollie took the opportunity to share a new track, Matter of Time. Straight off it was clear that the direction has progressed from ‘Thanks’. This more rock edge was accompanied by a strong Springsteen influence in this fast-paced track. Whilst Ollie clearly loves performing in general, his comfort with presenting this new material live to the world was elevated by his clear love for this genre of music. People aren’t making this sort of modern rock with those classic 70s sensibilities anymore. If this is the future of Ollie Wride, then we are all extremely lucky to say that we were here for its public genesis.
From speaking with a few people in the past 12hrs or so, it seems that the peak of the evening for many was Luna. This simplified mix and arrangement was all the track needed. Ollie’s work at the piano and Yasmin’s Soprano Sax (someone correct me if i’m wrong here!) both proving that less is more. Big lyrics and big emotions in a song that sticks.
Overcome and Back to Life hit next and again the live arrangements for these tracks were so impressive. It has been such a treat to see the impact of James’ drumming in the live interpretations and Elliot showing himself to be a very talented musician. Back to Life was given new layers with the inclusion of Obi and Yasmin. A version of this without them in the future just won’t be the same.
Finally, Ollie ended the set with fan favourite Running in the Night, his huge hit with FM-84. I’ve heard a few live versions of RITN and whilst it is a song that will always be a huge hit, Ollie and the band managed to bring some extra richness to an already strong track. It was the perfect send off to a sensational set that was everything anyone could have wanted short of being there in person.
Let us not underestimate how much the world needs event like these. I will happily say that it was an emotional evening and to see such a talented group of musicians playing wonderful versions of tracks that we know and love was a true escape. There was also a sadness to the broadcast in that between each track there was silence where there would usually be the sound of cheering an applause – A response that each and every one of them would have deserved.
Visually, the event was stunning and huge congrats to lighting designer Ed Warren and director Steve Price (who is the creative director for Queen). The tech team were extremely impressive.
And finally, a congratulations to Ollie. The heart and soul required to pull off such an event is huge and his continued passion for music and entertainment is not only getting us through this crazy time, but it will also bring us all back together on the other side. Congratulations.
Now you’ll need to excuse me, I have to return some videotapes.