Empyre at The Wheatsheaf, High St Oxford.
I’d arrived very early so went for a walk around Oxford. On my return Empyre were already on stage doing a sound-check with Joel. Once that had finished I overheard a rule of The Wheatsheaf, “No Children.” I guessed that a performer had turned up with kids and been refused entry. That came on top of a cancellation – the first in a very very long time for the venue which immediately reduced the running order from four, to two artists. Bugger.
On the bill were Ras Brother John, Quarter Melon, Empyre and Juniper Nights.
Now, I guessed that Ras Brother John had the admission trouble. I had looked forward to hearing his performance as he is currently battling poor health. Anyone prepared to do a performance while they’re suffering pain deserves to be listened to. Wishing him the best.
I don’t know what came of Quarter Melon or (unfortunately) anything about them, even after scouring The Interweb.
That left Empyre and Juniper Nights to entertain the small crowd that arrived to the “It’s All About The Music,” night being staged.
Empyre eventually took to the stage, a group of four from Northampton playing a set which would not have been out of place driving on a hot sunny day in an open top car with the volume, set to loud.
With Henrik Steenholdt – Vocals & Guitar; Did Coles – Lead Guitar, Dan Grannum – Bass and Jack Bowles – Drums, Empyre, a group of four very accomplished musicians Northampton based started their set by playing three tracks from the second of their two EP’s which are both available as a free download from their website.
The tracks; Drive; Cut to the Core and Just A Ride before entertaining us with some fantastic riffs playing the very catchy Only Way Out; Something Remains (which was performed during sound-check, great track; their new track Stone and ending their set with Homegrown.
Through no fault of their own, a band I found difficult to categorize but at a push, G’n’R, possibly some Black Crows and some Pearl Jam influences…but their sound has an originality to it which you’d have to search hard to find. That therefore, is this band’s unique selling point.
A real shame there wasn’t a bigger crowd to appreciate them Oxford will just have to wait for their next visit. Until then, they’ve a few dates coming up in Northampton at The Bear, The King Billy and The Charles Bradlaugh. If you can’t wait they can also be found on Bands In Town and Spotify, well worth listening to.
They were followed by a band I knew nothing of so I was a little intrigued at what I was going to hear.
A band in it’s infancy to the extent, they didn’t even have Facebook page. There was a bit of nervous scuttling about; a sound check and then a band who go by the name of “Juniper Nights,” too the stage.
If they seemed nervous, it left itself well behind by the end of their first track, “All At Once.” Their set-list continued with “5th Floor,” “Bloodflow,” “Annabel Lee,” “So So Kelly,” and “Lemon Head.”
Juniper Nights, with the right sort of management behind them, have all the makings of a great band…whom I’ll probably look back on in five years or so and say, “Yep, I photographed the band with their new line-up the first time they played with that line-up in Oxford.”
They are definitely one of those bands I’m glad to have seen. I’m not sure of the band names, where they were from or influences but almost certain they were heavily influenced by Nivarna Clapton and also Oasis in there too as while they played, they were who I was reminded me of; a unique blend of British grunge with tonal overlays and some lovely guitar work.
Should you ever get a chance to see Juniper Nights, don’t miss out!