Live Review: Rozi Plain + POZI at Oslo, Hackney

Support came from London 3-piece Pozi who are Toby Burroughs (Drums, Vocals), Tom Jones (Bass, Vocals) and Rosa Brook (Violin + Vocals). The combination of driving drums and bass with the violin adding drones, stabbing and harmony (Rosa’s bow took a hell of a beating). Toby’s voice has a plaintiff Robert Wyatt quality which really suits the melancholy nature of tracks such as ‘KCTMO’ (about the Grenfell disaster); and all three contrasting voices blend superbly. Musically there’s a Velvet Underground / PiL vibe married with the 80s angst of bands like Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry or the Fire Engines. I also really liked the use of vocal effects on tracks like ‘Noel’ and wish singers would explore this more (why should the guitarists have all the fun?). During her set Rozi Plain said she was a huge Pozi fan.

By the time Rozi Plain comes it’s a full venue and the opening track is a vamp while Rozi heads to the curtain at the back of the stage which held the word ‘POZI’ in neatly arranged gaffer tape. By the deft addition of one more strip of tape the tongue-in-cheek alchemy is complete and it reads ‘ROZI’. It’s not the only magical thing that happens over the next hour.

Rozi Plain is playing with the largest band I have seen her with to date and this allows the richness of the records to be fully released for a live audience. Most of the songs come from the new album What a Boost but there are also tracks from previous albums Friend and Joined Sometimes Unjoined.  The highlights for me were ‘Swing Shut’ with its roiling verses and joyous bursts of melody and closing wig-out (well, as close to full wig-out as RP gets) and the beautiful call and response in both ‘Symmetrical’ & the ‘Where There Is No Sun’. There were also crowd favourites from the earlier albums: ‘Actually’, ‘Best Team’ and the encore ‘Humans’.

Rozi Plain’s music is mesmerising, like an enchanting glimpse into an alternate world where the mundane is magical and there’s potential for ecstasy in the everyday. Her lyrics can seem oddly inert out of context but floating over the music, and interpreted by her zephyr of a voice, the musical chemistry is intoxicating. The arrangements allow musical accents to embellish songs and the, often odd, time sequences add to the wooziness and warmth of the whole. It feels like floating down a river on a hot day. The only annoying fly on this boat trip was wishing it had been a seated venue. The Zen state her music creates is hard to maintain when you’re held like eels in aspic by a packed standing crowd moving and accommodating toilet trips and bar visits. I wanted to let my mind wander off and follow the Rabbit down the hole. That said; this was a glorious show from a fantastic band united in breathing life and beauty into Rozi Plain’s songs and I had plenty of moments during the show where I drifted off to the splendour of ‘Rozi in Wonderland’.

Review by Paul F Cook


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