“Look to the East, Look to the West”-Camera Obscura, Academy 2, Manchester, United Kingdom – 6 May 2024






Tonight, Manchester’s Oxford Road wears an unusual cloak of quietness. Even the University Students Union building seems unusually subdued. The confines of the 900-capacity Academy 2 are however a stark contrast. It’s busy, very busy. The much-anticipated return to Manchester of Scottish indie pop stalwarts, Camera Obscura has certainly got everybody out on a school night. With a career spanning nearly three decades and a discography drenched in dreamy melodies, poignant bittersweet lyrics and nostalgia it promises to be a night that can touch everyone’s heart and soul.

Emerging from the vibrant Glasgow music scene in the mid 1990s the band’s exquisitely crafted pop gems speak directly to the heart.  “Liberty Print” from the band’s latest album ”Look to The East, Look to The West” perfectly emphasing the point. Its gentle phrases casting an ethereal spell and enveloping the packed room in a cocoon of warm sound. The angelic vocals of Tracyanne soaring effortlessly above the music’s delicate blend of melancholy and melody. It’s such an emotive opening song. Its journey of introspection and longing making me feel like both smiling and crying.

After Tracyanne mentions it’s good to be back in Manchester, “Let’s Get Out of This Country” elicits the nights second cheer. The song evoking a sense of wanderlust and longing. Its infectious hooks pulling the close-knit smiling crowd ever closer to the stage swaying and singing along as the song’s infectious chorus reverberates through the venue. “Swans” and “Tears for Affairs” continue the wistful melodies and poignant lyrics, Tracyanne’s emotive delivery drawing us in, her voice a beacon of light in a sea of darkness. “Teenager” effortlessly transports me back to the innocence and angst of my youth whilst “Big Love” shimmers with a radiant glow, its infectious energy getting toes tapping and heads nodding in approval.



Camera Obscura are:-

Tracyanne Campbell – lead vocals, guitar

Gavin Dunbar – bass

Kenny McKeeve – guitar, backing vocals

Lee Thomson – drums

Donna Maciocia – keyboards, backing vocals

Robert Henderson-Trumpet and percussion.


Vocals float above a backdrop of shimmering guitars, organ and gentle percussion through “This is Love (Feels Alright)”, the crowd swaying and mouthing words with abandon. Fan favourite “French Navy” drives the crowd further as they dance and sing along to “Oh, the thing that you do, you make me go oooooooooh” with unabashed pleasure. Tracyanne’s voice soaring to new heights with the driving power of the band behind her.

There’s a sense of collective euphoria within the cheers as the first Hammond organ notes of the nostalgic “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken” are heard. The chorus “Hey Lloyd I’m ready to be heartbroken, because I can’t see further than my own nose at this moment” sung by everyone around me. It’s a magical moment showcasing the band’s penchant for crafting infectious, witty and charming pop melodies.  As the night draws to a close “If Looks Could Kill” effortlessly captures heartache and longing within its powerhouse Northern Soul energy and handclaps. The crowd bouncing as ethereal vocals draw us in, transporting us to a world of bittersweet memories and unspoken desires, each lyric resonating with a sense of longing and vulnerability. It doesn’t get better than this at a gig and it’s going to leave an indelible impression on everyone here I’m sure.

A trio of gems leave smiles on faces and tears in eyes and end such an emotional night. Tracyanne’s crystalline vocals serving as a guiding light through the beautiful and delicate “Books Written for Girls”. As always, the line “You probably thought I had more upstairs” eliciting a wry smile from me. It’s difficult to choose just one best moment of the night, but if you twisted my arm it would be “Honey in the Sun”. A song which radiates Californian warmth within its driving rhythm, delicate guitar and forceful, joyful trumpet as it picks up the tempo again for one last time tonight. I’ve got to agree with Kev and Linda, the incredible Recordsville Social DJs, who know a thing or two about good tunes that this would have been an amazing single.  Finally, bringing the evening to a triumphant close is the irrepressible charm of “Razzle Dazzle Rose” and as notes fade into the night the echo of applause and cheers replace them in the darkness.



Tonight, every song  has been a testament to Camera Obscura’s musical prowess and their knack for capturing the complexities of human emotion through timeless melodies. New songs from ”Look to The East, Look to The West” stay true to the band’s delicate fusion of indie pop, folk, country and soulful balladry and merge perfectly with songs that span the bands illustrious career. Being lost in the bittersweet beauty of Camera Obscura’s enchanting melodies has been special, very special and a masterclass in indie pop excellence. After a ten-year hiatus I for one am glad they’re back. Do yourself a favour let Camera Obscura into your world as it makes it a much happier and fun place to be.




1/ Liberty Print

2/ Let’s Get Out of This Country

3/ Swans

4/ Tears for Affairs

5/ Teenager

6/ The Light Nights

7/ Big Love

8/ This Is Love (Feels Alright)

9/ Forests and Sands

10/ Come Back Margaret

11/ We’re Going to Make It in a Man’s World

12/ Look to the East, Look to the West

13/ French Navy

14/ Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken

15/ If Looks Could Kill


16/ Books Written for Girls

17/ Honey in the Sun

18/ Razzle Dazzle Rose