Live Review: Postmodern Jukebox @ O2 Academy Oxford


"She’s got a smile and it seems to me…reminds me of childhood memories…"

Instantly recognisable, yet distorted. Rather than the harsh tone of Axl Rose, the sultry voice of a blues singer, these crafted rock lyrics now swinging to piano chords and a laid back drum beat. This is the creation of Scott Bradlee who formed the Postmodern Jukebox band in 2011 – a quirky conglomeration of incredibly talented musicians and performers turning your favourite tunes into new classics. Their repertoire includes old-but-gold rock powerhouses like The Killers and Queen alongside pop hits from Miley Cyrus and Macklemore, recomposing them into ‘20s, ‘50s and '60s American jazz and blues arrangements.

This group are currently touring England and visited O2 Academy Oxford just a few weeks ago. When arriving, my friend and I were tentative, (and seriously lamenting the cost of drinks at gigs), especially as the audience steadily filtered into the space that was more suited as a warehouse than a concert hall. That is, however, my only complaint of the night as the outrageous personality of the host instantly enthused the audience. Outrageous, indeed, because the level of flirtation with the audience bordered on obscene. Even if you don’t recognise the songs, (and certainly some went right over my head), their brilliant theatricality left the audience breathless with laughter. An amazing tap dancer, a singer-cum-trombonist-cum-gymnast and even a rather risqué burlesque performer were certainly sparkling additions to the virtuosic singing of blues and upbeat melodies. My jaw was, admittedly, stuck to the floor for the entire rendition of Taylor Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’ as the scat-singing was simply, incredibly, incomprehensibly…bizarre.

Ultimately, though, the show was stolen when their ‘special guest’ entered the room; Scott Bradlee himself, who promptly took to the piano to play a medley of requested songs off the cuff. I could never have comprehended a combination of Harry Potter, (this is Oxford, of course), Lincoln Park and Bohemian Rhapsody, and yet Bradlee achieved this expertly and effortlessly. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, especially for a perfectly reasonable £35, and it took three encores for the audience to be satiated – yet the performers never showed a hint of exhaustion.

Even if you’re not able to attend a PMJ concert anytime soon, I urge you to look them up on Spotify and Youtube as they deserve the recognition as a unique addition to the modern music industry. Stuck for a place to start? Go for either the sassy reboot of ‘Shake It Off’ or the sensual rendition of ‘In the Jungle’, then buy tickets to their next concert. Now.