VV Brown, Just Jack, and Master Shortie's cosy charity shop show

Oxjam 2009 review

published: Thu 1st Oct 2009

VV Brown

Monday 28th September to Wednesday 28th October 2009
various locations around the UK, UK
varies - depending on event
last updated: Wed 21st Oct 2009

I have attended charity gigs before but none of them have compared to this Oxjam event. This was because of the venue; I was slightly sceptical when I heard that the gig (with VV Brown headlining) would be taking place in a regular Oxfam shop, which would still be working as a shop during the daytime of this week-long Oxjam gigs, and converted into a intimate performance space by night as part of the Oxjam Music Festival.

Oxjam Shop Takeover
My scepticism was unjustified because on entering the South London venue, I was immediately overwhelmed at just how 'cosy' the space was, and impressed that they had managed to fit a fully functional stage into the building.

The floor space had been cleared out, while the walls were still aligned with second-hand goods, ready for punters to buy if anything took their fancy.

The event organisers had done a superb job in making the most of what they had, as the setting was bathed in ambient, warm, green and red lighting, and they had converted the storeroom area into a bar with a sufficient supply of drinks for the event.

The first act, Master Shortie, kicked the event into action at 8pm with his blend of hip hop and rock-fuelled beats. Some of his biggest fans had turned up to this mini gig and the first couple of rows in front of the stage were brimming with young girls screaming his lyrics along with him and delighting in his energy – and trust me, Master Shortie has got a lot of energy!

Even though he was on a small stage, he leapt about in the air, bounded about and craned in over his audience, as he instructed his throng of followers "Put your hands up, I know you're tired but you lot are young so you should have no problem!"

Although quite short, his performance definitely got the crowd into the party mood and there was just something about his spirit that made it impossible for even the older audience members to avert their gaze from him.

Before Just Jack took to the stage, the comperes for the evening reminded us exactly why we were there, stating the Oxjam events are "a global movement for change and what better way to help than buying old stuff?"

Just Jack
That is exactly what people did because between acts the shop was fully operational and even though it was night time and we were all sitting on the floor, drinks in hands, trade still took place. There was a face painting service in the venue, and a vast amount of attendees had their face donned with Oxfam's trademark blue paint that has been circling the festivals this summer as part of Oxfam's 'Demand action until you're blue in the face' Campaign.

Unfortunately due to sound problems, Just Jack was delayed in coming onstage, which subsequently meant that the whole evening then ran over. However, his performance was vibrant nonetheless with Jack clearly being overwhelmed and excited at playing in such a small venue to such an intimate audience filled with a lot of his diehard fans.

He declared "I didn't expect you all to be so close! This is weird, isn't it? I'm performing in an Oxfam shop in Tooting!" before he launched into his lively set, flashing the audience with his cheeky smile in between lyrics, accompanied by his band. As before, the real Just Jack fans were practically onstage singing with him, as they were so close and most of his songs turned into a chorus of voices, especially 'Starz in Their Eyes', which prompted him to say, "If we were getting paid I'd pay you for the singing but it's for charity so it's all good."

Jack ended his performance with a touching acoustic version of 'The Day I Died', where he managed to get the whole crowd to join in with the chorus and even had the mature fans swaying along to the smooth reggae type beats.

The evening's finale came in the form of the sultry tones of the stylishly sophisticated VV Brown. The glam starlet took to the stage with her vivacious band and began by banging on a single drum with one drumstick before launching into her hip-moving set. There was a definite bubble of excitement surrounding her performance as the younger girls pushed right to the front.

Her voice was lifted throughout the venue and sounded truly rich. Nearly every single person was jiving along after she declared, "I can't help it, I just love 50's music!" and launched into an array of 50's inspired tunes. Her performance of her playful and finger-clicking 'Crying Blood' had the whole shop moving, and I genuinely did forget where I was.

Due to the late-running of the evening, I had to leave before Brown's set finished but not before I heard her declaring, "There's nothing more special than when you're in a room like this and it's small, and I can see all your little faces." VV Brown definitely won me over in this small venue, as she came across as a humble and extremely strong-voiced performer.

Overall, the venue was acoustically brilliant – The sound was crisp throughout. The shop was filled with a mismatch of people, from the older couples who regularly shop in Oxfam, to the younger fans who had come to see specific acts.

The general vibe in the air was chilled and one of elation with a much calmer, less crowded vibe that you can sometimes get with other gigs. As I exited the shop on to the South London street with the lustrous sounds of VV Brown snaking into the night, I couldn't help but wish that all gigs were charity based events in venues small enough to hold 100 or so people... wishful thinking, I know.

Oxjam Shop Takeover
review by: Fiona Madden

photos by: Fiona Madden

Monday 28th September to Wednesday 28th October 2009
various locations around the UK, UK
varies - depending on event
last updated: Wed 21st Oct 2009

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