Photo credits to Alastair McLelland

On Wednesday 31st January, live music fans and avid supporters alike flocked to The Jericho Tavern to see an intimate and eclectic show by two of Oxford’s most up-and-coming student bands: Big Slice and Last Orders. I found myself there that evening, and it is safe to say I haven’t seen a show that good since Wadstock 2023. After reaching out to both bands, I’d like to impart an honest review, some setlist details, and some fun facts about both crews.

Last Orders is a Univ-Wadham-Queens fusion band made up of Elishe (vocals and keys), Sam (guitar), George (bass), and Finn (drums). These four were to be our greatly anticipated openers. They burst onto the stage with an original song, ‘The Glow’. This was a rogue concept to me, as I was expecting to turn up and hear some classic, albeit overdone, covers, however, the jazz-funk-fusion composition was both refreshing and surprising. I had arrived embarrassingly early, wine in hand, and assumed a position respectably distant from the stage, but I soon regretted it when I realised some serious time signature alchemy was going on, and I needed to observe this wizardry up close and personal. Their set continued to impress as they worked their way through a Stevie Wonder medley, a spot of Jackson Five, a Madness mash-up (with an indulgent four encores of the Baggy Trousers refrain), a cover of John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ which was quite skillfully modernised and, perhaps to my untrained ear, had a slight ‘Bennie and the Jets’-esque influence, alongside a few more original tracks, each strikingly different to the last. There were a couple of technical hiccups, the blame for which was foisted upon the “sound guy”, but the band handled them with jest (which was abundant between the lead singer and the drummer, who threw jabs and insults at one another with glee through the microphones, much to the delight of those of us in the audience). As their section came to a close, the mic decided it must also depart from this world, and the audience received a yelled teaser statement about some new music dropping soon – I imagine Last Orders will stumble onto the radar again very shortly.

Sufficiently buzzing, I meandered away from the stage and got a real look at the venue: town hall tables and chairs, a faded Radiohead mural on the wall (though I’d prefer the term shrine), and a well-stocked, slightly dingy bar. Yes, this is certainly where music is born – I’d seen it time and time again. So, after an interlude to both the bar and the smoking area, I hopped right back up the stairs to the first-floor venue just in time to see Big Slice take to the stage.

Big Slice is made up of four talented Mansfield students: Kian (guitar), Jo (bass), and Marianne (guitar and keys) all providing vocals, with Dan (drums) providing the beats. Now, I have a bone to pick with this quartet, because after enjoying their set, I have become utterly convinced that they knew I was coming and curated a setlist entirely consisting of my Spotify Wrapped. Coming in strong with a cover of ‘Call Me’ by Blondie, they started the crowd dancing and kept the energy by working through a selection of Arctic Monkeys, Joy Division, Pulp, and original tracks, amongst others. I could barely contain my joy, however, when they followed a fantastic rendition of ‘Mulder and Scully’ by Catatonia (a favourite of mine) with an equally impressive take on ‘Here Comes Your Man’ by the Pixies (yet another non-mover on my playlist). Their versatile main vocalist Kian lent himself well, I thought, to the distinctive Sheffield serenade of Arctic Monkeys’ ‘Snap Out Of It’, as well as to the newer, but no less angsty, tunes of Sam Fender.

I will admit that I may be biassed towards a solid setlist of alternative tracks, or it is certainly feasible that the subpar (or frankly, horrendous) club music in Oxford has starved me of a live music fix, but nevertheless, I am eager to give a sizeable seal of approval to this particular Jericho Tavern binaural bonanza.

I thoroughly encourage you to check out both of these artists if you get the chance – they can be found on Instagram at @bigsliceband and @lastordersoxford, respectively.

Now, readers, click away before you have to witness the most heinous pun this side of Hilary… I’m sure this won’t be our Last Order of Big Slice this year!