O2 Academy Islington
20th October 2021

Reaching the climax of their latest tour, Echobelly delighted their home crowd with an intimate show packed tight with old hits and newer material.

Some of my favourite shows are the ones not in gigantic, impersonal arenas, but those that happen in smaller venues where the audience get to bond with their idols and the band gets to feel the love up close. Tonight there’s extra support for Sonya Madan who is valiantly fighting a battle with her gorgeous voice that wants to be lost and go home, from an audience who make it clear that they appreciate her regardless. To her great credit, she pushes through when some others wouldn’t, doing her utmost to give the audience the best show she possibly can, right to the end.

The thudding bass and drumbeat of Bulldog Baby, tonight’s sole track from third album Lustra, kicks things off, its soaring chorus weaving its spell around an audience that already looks rapt. As ever, Sonya constantly engages with them, responding to shout outs, inviting them to sing along with her to help, and telling jokes “What’s the difference between a female singer and a terrorist? You can negotiate with a terrorist.”

EchobellyThe songs that follow are pretty much an even split between albums On and Anarchy And Alchemy, an exception being the hypnotic and searching A Good Day, from 2004’s Gravity Pulls, which was played for the first time at a charity concert in Cambridge just two years ago. “And you remember how it was, Before the clamour of a strange dilemma, Before the flicker of a cold-eyed change, It will never be the same.” Maybe many songs seem somehow relevant these days, after such a peculiar time, but this one certainly does.

The much-loved King Of The Kerb, Great Things and Car Fiction are complemented, if not give way to, more recent contenders for “best Echobelly song” such as Hey Hey Hey and If The Dogs Don’t Don’t Get You, My Sisters Will, both of which show off Glenn Johansson’s superb guitar skills, with looping riffs that root themselves firmly in your brain.

EchobellyFor the encore, we’re treated to an Echobelly hoedown with Giving It All away, guest drummer Jonny Brister grabbing a tambourine and thumping the bass drum with his foot, and together with former Echobelly bassist James Harris, continuing to drive the rhythm, and Sonya and Glenn, onwards. There’s a great chemistry between them all.

And finally it’s Dark Therapy time – more cajoling of the audience to join in and sing it back as Sonya’s voice has pretty much caught the bus back to West London, and the place fills with “If you close your eyes than I can take you all the way, Let me close your eyes and I will take it all the way.”

A real feelgood show in difficult circumstances for Sonya.  Very much look forward to the next one.


Follow Echobelly on their website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


All words and photos by Naomi Dryden-Smith – Louder Than War | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | portfolio

Please note: Use of these images in any form without permission is illegal. If you wish to use/purchase or license any images please contact Naomi Dryden-Smith at

Previous articleMG8 – High – Single & Video Review
Next articleFactory Fairy Tales: Ged Duffy – book review
Festivals/Films Editor, mentor to new LTW team members, music photographer and reviewer. London-based House Photographer for O2 Academy Music Group. For commissions/prints contact


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here