JAMES MITCHELL can’t get enough of Lucy Rose.
I was fortunate enough to see Lucy Rose perform a few times when she was first starting out in London in 2007. Dragged along by a mutual friend for support, I do recall being rather impressed. Back then the show was usually just Lucy and her guitar, occasionally with a keyboard player in tow.
You can imagine my surprise when, five years down the line, I arrive at the Junction to find her kitted out with a drummer, bassist and backing singer – she’d even brought along a cellist! Based on my previous experience, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but I’m happy to report that it all made perfect sense.
If you’re familiar with Lucy’s debut album, ‘Like I Used To’, then you’ll know that her voice is practically faultless, and fortunately it translates very well in a live setting. There is a moment during ‘First’, when her searing vocals kick in alongside a particular chord change, that is truly spine tingling. Similarly, her performance on ‘Bikes’ is aimed directly at the soul and scores a bull’s-eye. ‘Shiver’ is almost too painful to talk about.
Lucy’s style of songwriting means that she is unlikely to win converts among those who don’t have a place in their lives for a good blast of melancholy. Rather apologetically, she introduced ‘All I’ve Got’ as “a bit too happy”, and confessed she wasn’t sure whether or not to play it. Fortunately for gloomy listeners, Lucy’s surface happiness still retains those underlying layers of sadness, and the audience lapped it up.
Special mention should be given to the band too. The arrangements did a fine job of bringing out the best in Lucy’s voice, such as on the delightful performance of ‘Night Bus’ and especially on ‘First’. The whole cast were the epitome of professionalism throughout the entire gig. They entered with little fanfare and dived straight in. The only diversion from actual music came when Lucy humbly thanked the audience for having her, also pausing to comment briefly on how big the crowd was.
The Junction was indeed packed, and as I scanned the room I could see everyone quietly mouthing her lyrics, until she encouraged the audience to “scream out loud” during ‘Bikes’. Of course, the room was also only too happy to oblige.
Near the end, there was a moment where someone in the crowd shouted out for Lucy to perform some covers and she replied, “I think you’ve got the wrong show.” The man had a point – Lucy’s haunting vocals could quite easily lend themselves to the next John Lewis Christmas advert. But don’t expect that to happen. Lucy’s songs are deeply personal, and you almost get the sense that, for her, singing is cathartic. I-Lazy covers are not part of the healing process.
The stern professionalism of her act could not contrast more with what followed, as she nimbly jumped off the stage to greet her fans and help flog her own branded tea and pots of jam. How long she’ll be able to keep this kind of activity up is anyone’s guess. If not quite a household name, she is definitely on the cusp. I for one certainly hope she makes it there. With very few celebrity encounters to my name, at least then I can say I saw Lucy Rose when she was gigging in the back of a pub.