Music review: Artmagic at St Pancras Old Church

Suede guitarist Richard Oakes is perfect counterpoint to Britney Spears collaborator Sean McGhee’s vocals

�Artmagic are taking their debut album, Become the One You Love, on tour to small venues and festivals throughout the UK this summer.

Vocalist Sean McGhee (who has worked with Britney Spears, Robyn and Imogen Heap) and Richard Oakes (Suede guitarist) played a short set, with all songs taken from the album, in the intimate setting of St Pancras Old Church on Monday.

Oakes’ brittle, cutting guitar is a perfect counterpoint to Sean McGhee’s wide vocal range and this worked to great effect on some of the more anthemic songs such as The Choice, but the venue’s small size counted against his delivery, being rather drowned out by the drums of Mathis Richet, keyboard player Gordana Jokovic and the bass guitar of Ben Ellis.

Down In the River, with its soft-rock, clap-hands rhythm showed off a catchy riff from Oakes and held the audience with an infectious chorus.

The current single Forever In Negative, with its almost mournful guitar breaks, pointed towards a thoughtful, almost spectral direction with some very personal reflections in the lyrics.

McGhee introduced You as an ‘angry song’, and this saw the band pound out some powerhouse chords that might have been better heard, and felt, in a larger venue.

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The Gift Of Flight, the band’s ‘gay love song’, showcased McGhee’s melodic voice nicely with its almost hymnal quality, it’s lines of ‘taking to the skies’ rising with the tone of his voice.

Artmagic do not fit into any conventional musical genre; they seem torn between stadium anthem rock and anguished torch songs.

Oakes’ and McGhee’s success seems to have left them not ‘hungry’ enough to pen and perform crowd-pleasing songs, and much of their repertoire seems a little lacking in ambition.

* Artmagic played St Pancras Old Church in St Pancras Way, NW1, on July 9