Esser at Xbox Reverb, Colchester – Live Review

For anyone who’s ever achieved rock glory via a plastic guitar, five multi-coloured buttons and sitting in their pants, Christmas has come seventeen days early.
For tonight the worlds of live music and gaming collide without the need of kidnapping a band and forcing them at knife point to soundtrack your psychotic all-night Modern Warfare 2 session. Instead Colchester has brought the Xbox’s to the venue, without the need of the police.

Although if you were to kidnap a band for your entertainment, you wouldn’t go wrong with Egyptian Hip Hop. Despite never setting foot in Cairo, not rapping and looking as though they’re barely out of the womb, their blend of melodic grunge veers thinly along the line between lush and scuzz, creating not only a genre of their own but enough noise to divert attention away from screens.

On the other hand Magistrates turn those eyes into dancing feet. Their hype, due in part to a delayed debut album, may be fading fast but tonight falsetto floor fillers such as ‘Heartbreak’ and ‘Make This Work’ remind us what we got so excited about in the first place. It would be a shame this is the beginning of the end, rather than just the beginning.

For the main event himself, there’s nothing but love, as is evidently mutual.
“This is for the two girls at the front, they’ve just told me their names are Sophie and Penny, it’s called ‘I Love You’” Esser says to hometown screams.
From ‘Braveface’, a tale of serial killers (“yay” he dead pans), to the balls-out pop of ‘Satisfied’, all Esser wants to do tonight is make “Coolchester” dance. To which they oblige.

It would be far too easy to dismiss that intention as paper thin and contrived but one thing Esser does have is charm. It’s how he can deliver lines such as “This song is about people with long arms, it’s called ‘Long Arms’” which end in laughs rather than cynical groans.

Although it’s upon final song ‘Headlock’ that Esser shows his full potential and ability for pop writing, as all Xbox terminals empty and gather to sing back every word of this tale of troubled relationships and playground metaphors, assuring that when Esser walks off the stage tonight, he walks off victorious.

It’s almost enough to make you contemplate kidnapping…