-OZ-

 
O2 Academy Islington
London
22nd January 2011
Written by Rachel Yarwood
Photography by Lorna Ransome

1 Birthday
2 Rotate
3 Shangrila
4 Bitter & Sweet
5 BLAZE
6 Zenith
7 PLANT
8 Pressed flower
9 flood bead
10 Strings
11 Seventh Tier
12 FILMY
13 Nerve[less]
14 Protect:code
15 Enmity
16 LEAD

-Encore-
ATHENA
Butterfly
DETOX


The first major gig of 2011 sees -OZ-, having made their way across land and sea, to make their debut in UK's London Islington Academy.

It must be an exciting, but also a daunting, experience when you first take to the stage to perform. -OZ-, who formed in 2004, have had plenty of this experience in their homeland, but this year they have spread their wings and graced our little island with the one show at the now rather infamous venue in the south of the country.

Only God could tell what was about to unfold in those hours the band would be performing especially for us Brits.

Islington is a familiar place for many who come here year after year to see their favourite bands. Tonight, the place is barely half filled, with a mix-mash of people. Some stand out, dressed to impress, in their gothic attire whereas others are donned comfortably in jeans and teeshirts, which normally you would be surprised to see at a more 'visual' event.

The reality of tonight is simply that numbers mean absolutly nothing. The vibe in the room accounts for the lack of heads... the excitement slowly brewing as everyone waits, rather patiently, for -OZ- to make their entrance.

There can be absolutely nothing to fault with time management tonight. Doors are opened promptly, something which isn't a regular occurrence at this venue, and the security check has definitly stepped up a couple of notches over the past year including the removal of a packet of chewing gum. However, it must only have been ten minutes once everyone was inside before the house lights were dimmed and shut off and the opening introduction "Birthday" began to a tremendous roar of excitement from the crowd. You would think that -OZ- had been around for many years with the amount of showmanship oozing from them as they take to the stage, arms extended, towards the crowd who surge forward to greet them with passion.

The first full length song that follows is “Rotate” the second song from their newest full length album “Rouge”. It takes a bit of a weird turn, as unlike the excitement that pulsed from the crowd as the band enters, there is hardly any movement at all except from those on the front rows. However, as if naturally sensing this, Natsuki simply shouts “Jump!” and near enough the entire of the audience obeys to his command. Natsuki is a natural crowd pleaser, shouting "Let's get crazy" on more than one occasion during the performance, to keep the spirited moods high with each song that follows.

The band take a short breather after their fourth song of the night "BLAZE" and Natsuki comes forward to take his opportunity to speak to the crowd. "We are -OZ-! ... How doing? Ok? I can speak English, but little... little... (which is met by laughter and applause for his exceptionally good effort!) This tour... it get better!"

 In those few words of rather good English, Natsuki had nailed it, and led the way into their fifth song "Zenith" in which all hell broke loose into a mass of mosh and seriously hard core headbanging.

The only thing that can be seen as a negative on this night is that Zukki seemed to blend too much into the background and at times it proved rather difficult to see him. However, guitarist's Tama and Aki, and Bassist Nao, continuously strode forward to the edge of the stage soaking up the excitement from the clearly enthralled crowd below to encourage as much movement as possible. If this did not make up for the lack of view from where Zukki was seated... just a little, then it would prove very difficult indeed to have made the night more spectacular for those who were present.

I don’t think fans of –OZ- could have asked for anything more from this evening. The band, energetic and enthusiastic, take the place by storm. Natsuki – in high spirits, encouraging the crowd at every opportune moment, entertaining with pure leadership. Everything was perfect, from the moment they all appeared from behind the curtain, to the sheer level of talent exuding from each member as they play each song with a passion separate from this world, to the absolute humility and gratitude they each showed to their fans who lined up to meet them after the show.

For their debut in the UK, -OZ-, without a moment of doubt, gave it their all from start to finish and this night will be one not easily forgotten by anyone who turned out to see them perform.