It’s almost a shame Lucy Rose is known to some people as “That backing singer from Bombay Bicycle Club.” She had been working on her solo material for a while before she met BBC’s vocalist Jack Steadman, but it is only this year that Lucy has really stepped into the limelight. Rightfully so too: her indie folk is instantly catchy, ranging from timid acoustic pieces to heart-pounding folk rock anthems. Despite her mousy appearance, she has a powerful yet soft voice, and one that compliments her music perfectly.
An enthusiastic audience greeted her at The Kazimier (which she acknowledged gratefully, almost in wonder that they can have such energy on a Tuesday night), but it is not one of her energetic songs that opens the set: instead, she chooses the perfectly titled “First.” This slow, soothing track is an unconventional opener, but somehow it feels right- it allows all focus to be on Lucy, and it is almost mesmerizing. The band slowly come in, demonstrating how even though she is technically a solo artist, you can’t help but feel that the music would be somewhat empty without them accompanying her.
The bitter sweet album opener “Red Face” follows this up, which has an intriguing mix of a slow start, that suddenly explodes into life towards the end. By playing two contrasting songs right at the beginning of the show, Lucy and her band demonstrate the fantastic variety of styles the audience experienced throughout the show. It bounded back and forth between lively and quiet tracks, with the band dropping in and out of the set; Lucy herself is clearly the focus of all attention. Sometimes a little bit too much, in fact; at one point a passionate fan member yells “I want your babies!”, to which a smiling Lucy coolly replies, “No you don’t.”
In all fairness, her interactions with the audience are to be admired. Some bands just plod through their set with nothing more than a “How are you all doing?” to their faithful, but Lucy eagerly asks and reflects throughout their set, beginning with a nervous comment about her new pair of trainers before some dedicated fans give her a bottle of milk with a personal message attached. After this, she can’t stop smiling. It’s these interactions that only add to her character and enhance her material: She mentions before “Shiver” that she was worried about capturing the song on record, and it becomes apparent why when she begins to play: crawling and hauntingly beautiful, “Shiver” is definitely a highlight of the set. Previous single “Scar” is also warmly received despite being only available on the deluxe album, and sounds fantastic live. (Maybe I’m biased with that though, it’s my favourite song of hers.)
Lucy closed the set with “Bikes,” which has a devoted group of fans at the front singing along to every word. In fact, the whole audience seemed captivated by her: When she sings “Listen up, listen hear everybody scream out,” everyone responds. Afterwards, Lucy cannot thank the audience enough; this is one of her biggest shows to date. It seems she genuinely means what she says as well, for after the crowd chant “Lucy! Lucy!” at the top of their lungs and stamp the floor, she comes out for an intimate encore with “Don’t You Worry” and album closer “Be Alright.” You’ll find her selling merchandise and signing tickets once the show is over. This level of commitment to her fans can’t help but make you feel she deserves everything she works for.
Overall: a brilliantly relaxed gig with an enticing performance by one of the most exciting female artists today. Definitely not one to miss if she comes to a venue near you.
/ Jack Graysmark