Review: Lewis Watson at The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

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By the time that the doors of The Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth were set to open at 8 o’clock on Monday for the first night of Lewis Watson’s tour, people were already eagerly queuing outside the venue.  It had been a while since the singer-songwriter from Oxford visited the town, so it was great to see people keen for his return.

The start of Lewis’ string of five UK shows comes just three days before the release of his much anticipated second album, midnight, which he announced at the end of last year.  The LP is finally here almost three years after his debut album, the morning, was released, therefore it’s safe to say that fans have been looking forward to new music from him; the day by day countdown that the singer has been posting on Twitter and Instagram for the last fortnight indicates that Lewis is just as excited.

Opening band Slow Lights provided a great start to the evening; their sound was arguably a lot heavier than would have been anticipated as a support act for Lewis’ somewhat mellow sound but they did a wonderful job kicking off the gig.  Their penultimate song ‘Go Somewhere’ came with a pre-warning from the band’s frontman that they’d never played it right live so were hoping for the best – it sounded great, though the performance was dubbed as being “a 6/10” by the singer (it definitely deserved a higher rating).

When Lewis finally came on the stage, there were no flashy or drawn out introductions that you often see with a lot of accomplished performers; he appeared with the rest of his band and began playing the opening guitar riff of track number one from midnight, ‘maybe we’re home’.  This was the song that was initially premiered from the new album, and definitely showcases the shift and maturity in Lewis’ music, which is a particularly poignant change given the length of time since he last performed in Portsmouth  – the use of electric guitars on the song add another dimension to the acoustic sound that he initially established with the release of the morning and the audience seem to relish it.

With a huge back catalogue of five EPs, one LP and another album days from being released, it must have been a difficult decision for Lewis to decide what made the setlist; however, he performed the perfect balance of new and old material.  For three tracks, he sent his band off stage to do stripped back acoustic versions of ‘bones’, ‘into the wild’ and ‘halo’ (which was done unplugged with his backing vocalist Julie providing the dreamy harmonies).  This added an air of nostalgia to the gig – it brought it back to when Lewis was uploading videos of just himself and his guitar on his YouTube channel.  ‘bones’ was definitely a crowd favourite – it was on his very first EP and he encouraged the audience to sing one chorus alone and it was enlightening to see the happiness that the sound of everyone’s voices singing his lyrics gave him.

In terms of his interaction with The Wedgewood Rooms crowd, Lewis frequently reminded them of the fact that midnight was out in three days, and commented that it was “a cheap joke, but if you guys keep laughing, I’m going to keep making it”.  Clearly, Lewis couldn’t wait for these fans to hear his new music, as was definitely shown through his flawless performance of the tracks from the album and the anecdotes that he seemed to have for every song which made it a much more personal and insightful experience.  Overall, it was a lovely evening full of beautiful music from a humble and wondrous talent.

Tickets for Lewis Watson’s tour are available here.

Lewis Watson’s sophomore album midnight is available to download and stream now.

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Third year English student that writes about music and drinks too much coffee

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