1st November | St. George’s
Photo: Lee Ramsey
Live music is always loud enough to fill the space it occupies. But there are pleasantly rare occasions on which the sound itself is a perfect fit for its setting. That was certainly the case as Lucy Rose commenced a run of UK dates with her show at St. George’s. To hear her note-perfect, uplifting voice in a deconsecrated church was eminently nurturing for the soul.
Support came from Charlie Cunningham, playing in the Spanish-influenced style he learned when living in Seville, using only acoustic guitar and voice to deliver delicately-observed songs. As well as strumming and picking, any unoccupied fingers would be used percussively to beat a rhythm on the body of the guitar. It’s a bold style; there’s complex technique, yet nowhere to hide. He was spot-on. ‘While You Are Young’ encouraged us to make mistakes, live a little and generally enjoy sittin’ on the dock of the bay, wastin’ time. That message was reinforced by the image of “Letting your wings unfold” in ‘Minimum’ – achieving a successful lift-off on this first night of the tour, before the night soared to further heights with the headline act.
Cunningham’s minimal swagger with optimal effect was the perfect warm-up for Lucy Rose’s arrival. If there was a Brit Award for self-deprecation, she’d be a sure-fire for the shortlist. Despite having supported Paul Weller recently, she still cuts an apprehensive figure between songs. After set opener, ‘Intro’, she drew attention to her nervy reputation, explaining, “I’m not doing it for the sympathy vote; I’m genuinely bricking it up here.” You could have heard a pin drop during the song itself, which exposes her enchanting, crystalline vocals entirely at the start, before a slow-build into a full-band sound.
As nerve-racking as that vulnerability must be, it is a cornerstone of the success of 2017’s Something’s Changing, a career-redefining release that, by this evening’s performance, has given her back her wings. We were able to share that joyous freedom, either through the music or the lyrics, like “Let me live in the wild tonight” in ‘Strangest of Ways’. In the spirit of liberation and redemption, she played ‘Our Eyes’ solo in the middle of the set, having not played it live for ten years, not believing that it justified a place in the set list.
We were, she said, her guinea pigs. As all good pet-care sites will tell you, guinea pigs have sensitive hearing, so she took what began life as a pop-infused, dancefloor filler and stripped it back to the intensity and quiet, awkward intimacy that the eye contact in the song conveys. ‘Moirai’, her self-confessed, “Favourite one to play” was beloved of the audience too, proving that there’s also ample beauty in melancholy.
Ending the set with ‘Shiver’ from her debut album and ‘Find Myself’ from her latest one gave us both ends of the Lucy Rose emotional spectrum, going from “We stole/Every moment we had/To make the other one feel bad” to “Take your time and don’t lose sight/Of why we’re here and who we want to be.” On this evidence, she has certainly found herself and reactions like the Bristolian roar at the end of her encore closer, ‘Like an Arrow’ ought to help her to “brick it” less and less in time.
Watch Lucy Rose play ‘Moirai’ in similarly atmospheric surroundings here: