Lucy Rose at The Brook, Southampton (21/05/13)

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Despite being a Southampton student you could still be forgiven for having yet to discover The Brook, a local music venue whose aspect is pretty bleak, loitering as it is on a corner to the far end of Portswood Road. Get inside though and you’ll kick yourself for having underestimated it so; the unexpectedly vast interior boasts a big stage, sophisticated lighting, a similarly huge balcony area and some really friendly bar staff. But for tonight’s show this Tardis-like spot finds itself packed with people to see Lucy Rose and her band perform for, as the singer happily tells the crowd, their first sell-out gig and largest audience outside of London to date.

Playing songs from her debut album, Like I Used To, the night heard stirring renditions of ‘Bikes’ and ‘Be Alright’ as well as the bittersweet sounds of ‘Night Bus’ and ‘Middle of the Bed’ that emerged together during the middle of the set. The show was dotted with new, unheard tracks, warmly received by her fans and seamlessly slotting in with work from the album and holding promise of another brilliant record to come.

Even with a full supporting band the set itself felt stripped back, beautifully restrained and, despite the singer’s initial joke about their lack of on-stage professionalism, consistent and smooth, made up of a clearly accomplished group of artists. Particular praise goes to the bassist, Simba (awesome name!), whose talents added a deliciously resonant layer to many of the arrangements. Every song flowed into the next, even as Rose struck a rapport with the audience, handling some slightly irritating but friendly heckles with anecdotes on tumbleweed and a slang word for an STI. Smilingly shy, articulate and witty, the crowd were charmed.

Rose’s performance alone was both subdued, powerful and in some respects, surprising. I was already expecting the fragility and melancholy of her voice but not the power and intensity with which she sang live, rendering songs with sonorous, lingering vocals that swelled and tapered off like waves throughout the room. The atmosphere remained, accordingly, one of hushed, captivated silence. If Lucy can offer us such a memorable live gig at this young stage in her career, we can await her next tour with even greater anticipation.

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