If you’ve not yet come across this online sensation, let me start by introducing this band. A collection of virtuoso musicians from the USA, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox take modern popular music songs and re-create them in vintage style, ranging from ’20s jazz to ’60s rock and roll. The result is an energetic sound which completely revitalises the repetitive synthesised tracks of many modern songs, especially those which we are forced to listen to in shopping centres and bars. The aim of Postmodern Jukebox is to transport these well-known songs of the current era back to the ‘Golden Age of music’, and in so doing they have attracted an increasingly large crowd of fans from all ages – youngsters who are impressed by hearing a new version of a favourite song, and those from an older generation who are delighted with fresh music in an already beloved style, tried and tested over decades.
Scott Bradlee is an American musician, pianist, composer and arranger known for his viral videos on YouTube, and this is where his Postmodern Jukebox have found their fanbase, so the atmosphere of anticipation in Oxford’s O2 Academy was high, as so many fans looked forward to seeing in the flesh the stars of the jukebox videos previously streamed online. The Oxford gig was sold-out, with little space for the dancing which the band’s music was crying out for. Help was at hand, however, as the presence of Sarah Reich and her incredible tap-dancing provided enough dance skill for the whole room – her rhythmic steps clattered on the stage with as much precision as any drumbeat. Visibility was still a little bit of an issue as the audience craned necks to see – the group would have been better able to show off in a more open and spacious venue.
The compère of the show was the incredible LaVance Colley, whose best song in my opinion is his cover of Beyonce’s ‘Halo’, reaching incredible pitches. Other stars of the show were Sara Niemeitz, Cristina Gatti, Casey Abrams, and Maiya Sykes on vocals, with Lemar Guillary on trombone, and Stefan Zeniuk on saxophone & clarinet. My favourite moment of the night was when the band subtly started playing the ‘Star Wars’ theme, before launching into the melody of ‘Cantina Band’ – if ever a film track was designed to be played by Postmodern Jukebox it was this one! The band have proved that they can carry their internet fame beyond the confines of a computer screen and can put on a brilliant live show; I am sure their popularity will only increase.