Rex Orange County’s live show is as captivating and charismatic as his records, Redbrick Music writer Jonah Corren reports
To say Rex Orange County had the whole crowd on his side as soon as he walked on stage would be an understatement. The packed hall of Digbeth’s O2 Academy was in the palm of Rex’s hand right from the off and did not leave it until he left the stage, following an encore performance of ‘Loving Is Easy’, to which every single person in the room was singing along.
Other notable songs in Rex’s Thursday set included the irresistibly catchy ‘Corduroy Dreams’, in which the killer lyric ‘Don’t call me daddy/ ’Cos that’s just fuckin’ weird’ earned a noticeable chuckle from the audience, and the jazzy and quirky ‘Sunflower’, in which Rex’s tour band showed off their musical talents. Rex himself switched comfortably between keyboard and acoustic guitar, using both instruments both in upbeat numbers with the band, and during sizeable sections where he sung on his own. The contrast between acoustic and textured songs was well worked and assured that the audience was never restless.
Much of Rex’s set was comprised of songs about his long-time girlfriend Thea, who, with a musical career of her own, writes almost as many songs about him. In fact, for Rex’s second song, Thea joined him onstage to sing, a moment the audience found visibly endearing.
Rex Orange County’s appeal as an artist comes, partly, from how genuine his writing seems, and that certainly came across live, with his occasional patter with the audience continually checking in to see we were all enjoying ourselves, as well as a thoughtful reminder that we should all drink plenty of water, as he sipped his own bottle. It wasn’t that he was hugely charismatic, but if he had been it wouldn’t have worked quite as well with his image, it
wouldn’t have seemed quite so, well, genuine.
Rex’s set lasted for just over an hour, perhaps a little short for such an anticipated sell-out gig, and especially since many people in the audience must have been waiting well over two hours to ensure they got a good view of the singer. Coming into the venue a good forty-five minutes before Rex came on, we were still pushed right to the back of the room. However, as a solo artist with such laid-back, lyrical songs, a longer set could have perhaps been overdrawn, and it was certainly better to leave the audience wanting more. Rex certainly did that.