With last year marking 25 years since the release of Eagle-Eye Cherry’s debut LP Desireless, and not having played in the UK since 2019, a UK stopover from the Swedish artist was long overdue. Before Eagle-Eye Cherry graced the stage, two support acts preceded him.
The first, multi-instrument and folk-leaning Emma Stevens proved to be no newbie. Her experience of collaborating with Passenger and headlining the BBC Introducing stage at Festival in a Day in Hyde Park was self-evident. Former 2017 X Factor runner-up Grace Davies then demonstrated her skilled vocal range on songs with several focusing on previous relationships.
When Eagle-Eye Cherry addressed the stage, whether one was at the front or the back of the venue, it was clear that he had seldom changed since 1997. It was impossible to conceive that this man was now 54. Whilst Cherry did take a break from music for seven years during 2003 – 2010, Eagle-Eye used this Islington Academy gig to drop music from his latest album Back on Track.
One of the first new songs played was “Thinking About You”, instant and catchy like his early material, “Thinking About You” also blended up-tempo country reminiscent of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”. “I like It”, also catchy and inviting was improved live where the electric and acoustic guitars took centre stage over the synth elements. Eagle-Eye got political on “Shine a Light” where the infectious Caesars-styled organ arrangements inspired gospel holiness rather than incitement to subvert. The heaviest hitting of the new songs “One of Those Days” synchronised The Killers’ synths with Rochford’s eighties rock.
With Desireless having turned 25 and the album which got Eagle-Eye Cherry the big top ten hit single he wasn’t sure he wanted, it was inevitable more songs than “Save Tonight” and “Falling in Love Again” were going to be included on the setlist. “Indecision” wowed as a soft rock inspiration of The Pixies whilst “Comatose (In the Arms of Slumber)” brought back halcyon memories with enchanting organs and harmonies. Blues riffs impressed the Islington Academy on “Worried Eyes”. “Rainbow Wings” demonstrated its acoustic leading brilliance.
The tracks performed by the more guitar-heavy Living in the Present Future which includes “Long Way Around” equally galvanised the crowd. “Been Here Once Before” with its brilliant, upbeat feel good rock epitomised the glorious late nineties and early noughties zeitgeist. The lead single “Are You Still Having Fun?” proved as it was back in 2000 that it was still an anthem and infectious. Furthermore “Burning Up”, brought out the best of the organ which would inspire Ryan Adams a year later. The catchiness of the acoustic guitar with heartfelt riffs on this song was reminiscent of Tracy Chapman.
Throughout the rest of the set, the crowd celebrated the late nineties and early noughties indie sounds. When Cherry subtlety pointed at someone recording throughout the set as he sang “Are You Still Having Fun?” it was obvious that this gig was all about enjoying oneself as they did in the pre-smartphone era. Eagle-Eye Cherry, for most of this gig was an icon representing the late nineties and early noughties. Cherry represented with originality, and like his black “Peace” t-shirt, with cool dignity.
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