Mark Owen At The Olympia – Review

Originally posted on – Mark Owen at The Olympia June 19th 2013

Exactly two years to the day, Take That played the second of two sold out shows in Croke Park. Alongside the other four original members, Mark Owen played to over 160,000 Irish fans. This time round, Owen is back on Irish soil on a solo tour in support of his recently released album, ‘The Art of Doing Nothing’.

Before Owen takes to the Olympia stage, local band Acrobat get the chance to open the show. When a name like Owen’s is involved, there will always been a loyal fanbase awaiting his arrival. This however, didn’t deter Acrobat from giving their all. Officially a three piece, the band enlist a synth player for live shows and it pays off. They have a tight indie rock vibe and their sound is balanced beautifully. Singer and guitarist, Mark Thomas, uses the Olympia stage well interacting with the audience and getting the seated audience clapping along and involved in the set, which included their debut single Safe Inside, the soaring Silent Sound. All come across as competent musicians and while it was their first time on the Olympia stage, they seem like they are ready for bigger. Very enjoyable set.

The wait between acts is the worst part about gigs. The music on the P.A. tonight fills the gap well with indie tracks scattered between songs from movie soundtracks as the stage is readied with a mat that looks like a British stamp. The sound changes slightly and Gerard McCann’s Cry Little Sister from The Lost Boys soundtrack fills the venue. The volume rises and as the track nears the end vertical strips of LED lights pulse on stage in time with the beat. Dramatic. Mr. Owen immediately gets himself some cool points. As he and his band come to the stage, the predominately female audience let their voices be heard.

Dressed in a white jacket and black trousers, Owen looks at home on his own in the centre of the stage. The set opens with Giveaway and Raven from his current album. Giveaway is an unusual choice of opener, starting off quiet before the tempo raises. Owen is joined onstage by a four piece band, drums, guitar, bass and keys. Actually, in total there are seven keyboards/synths on stage, one of which boasts a QR code for fans to scan. By the end of Raven, Owen has played keys and guitar, showing himself to be way more than the all singing all dancing Take Thater.

The audience are on their feet and although this maybe a chance to convert some TT fans to his solo stuff, there are many already mouthing the words. Owen addresses the audience, thanking them for their dedication over the past twenty years. He jokes about how he doesn’t have a big circus or standing man, references to previous TT tours. As he pours a drink from a teapot, he does show the audience his waving cat though, which gets a giggle.

The set continues with Stars, the current single. Sound in the venue is pristine, Owen’s soundscape is huge, from beautiful bass synth sounds to the punchy sound from what seems like a jazz kick drum. It is a TT song that sends the audience into overdrive though. The Flood is given an uptempo intro and the other members aren’t missed as every audience member helps out with the chorus.

Scattered among tracks from his current album, Owen plays 1997’s Clementine, from his debut, ‘Green Man’, and the brilliantly clever Four Minute Warning, which celebrates its tenth birthday this year. Believe in The Boogie from Owen’s third album ‘How The Mighty Fall’ keeps everyone dancing. Yes, he has released four solo albums.

Two TT tracks finish up the main set as the show really turns into a celebration of Owen’s career. Everyone, in the seated venue, is on their feet, singing with all their might. As Hold Up The Light builds, the crowd get more hyped. Owen does the clever thing and uses tracks that he has the lead vocal, ending the main set with the singalong a crowd pleaser Shine. These are the songs people want to hear and Owen doesn’t disappoint.

Mark Owen and his band leave the stage to deafening applause. The crowd aren’t going anywhere, waiting for a return. Mark comes back to the stage and Rule The World gets a piano rendition, making the song his own. He finishes the night with End of Everything, an anthemic bitter sweet song which builds to reveal a positive crescendo. A perfect choice.

The band leave the stage as Owen is still acknowledging the crowd, he hasn’t stopped smiling and looks like he has really enjoyed himself, which has rubbed off on everyone else. The crowd are clapping as Mark says his last goodbyes, then stops and starts clapping with the audience. The tempo of the handclaps change slightly to match the beat of Take That’s ‘Up All Night’. So with just handclaps and a full voiced audience for accompaniment, a last chorus is sung.

What tonight does is show how Mark Owen has grown as an artist. It also seems to indicate how much he has contributed to TT since their reformation. Previously, Gary Barlow was ‘the main man’, going on the arrangements, rhythms and songwriting on display, it seems Mark Owen deserves more credit than he has been given. A fantastic night’s entertainment.