Live Review

Lucy Rose, Minster Church, Reading

One of the year’s breakthrough songwriters celebrates the past 12 months in slightly surreal circumstances.

Lucy Rose’s

music, although easy to categorise at face value - light on the ears, folk-led, accessible pop - isn’t the type to fall into certain camps with ease. Too delicate for daytime radio playlists and too simple to nurture the needs of a culture snob. It’s not necessarily a case of ‘not quite’. Lucy’s very much “made it”, so to speak, with an evergrowing fanbase and a record deal on a major label. She’s gone some way from announcing herself a few years back with a handful of Myspace demos and a Bombay Bicycle Club guest spot. But where she sits exactly amongst specific crowds is hard to say.

Take for instance the setting of a church. It’s one we might associate with stripped-back acoustic sets, or classical piano outings. I saw grown adults collectively weep at a Perfume Genius set in a magnificent church at this year’s Great Escape Festival in Brighton. That show had a sense of occasion and belonging. It was a perfect match. Lucy Rose’s backing band is the same DIY saw at Reading Festival. Surrounded by synth pads and a trolley of amplifiers, this is the first show of the singer’s tour to date where she’s been met with a group of onlookers, all sitting down, all in their rows. It takes some getting used to, but by the time we’re finished, ill-fitting location is but a petty detail to put to one side.

Beginning with ‘Little Brave’, the set is carefully crafted, bereft of flaws. The band give off a distinctly professional image but there’s enough interaction and camaraderie to draw you in. Clothed in thick leggings and an Adidas jumper, Lucy adapts to the occasion both by wrapping up warm and by winning over an initially awkward, unsure crowd with chatty interjections between sweetly delivered renditions of her ‘Like I Used To’ debut.

By the time ‘Place’ settles into its soft climax the audience finally depart from their pews - after a very democratic vote between the band and audience - and raise themselves into something more resembling your traditional crowd. Lucy stays seated, but this sudden shift in atmosphere lends the set the lease of life if needs, as ‘Bikes’ gives way to an encore, introduced terrifically with the spellbinding highlight ‘Be Alright’.

Usually church shows are defined by a sense of harrowing intimacy, as each departing note in a sullen set gives way to minor moments of terrific silence. Lucy’s set is too lively for this, but that needn’t detract from the sense of occasion that emerges here, as a fledgling songwriter enjoys the year of her life in somewhat surreal circumstances. You can’t help feeling that this show is so fully realised and dazzling, it’d be better primed for giant arenas. And there’s very little to stop Lucy Rose from reaching those heights.

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