It’s been a busy day. Since 07:02 I have failed to make a cup of tea or eat anything resembling breakfast. From deadlines to traffic jams I have hopscotched the city; finally, eventually, literally walking in behind her, making it into The Temple to see Lucy Rose perform. By the skin of my teeth I order a beer as the first chord is struck, tired but in place.
The last time I saw Lucy Rose was also at the Institute, but downstairs in a packed out Library. Tonight is upstairs in the considerably smaller Temple, where wall to wall shoulders make my route to the back of the room (the bar) a near impossibility.
NO FUSS, as my Grandma used to say, as Lucy Rose opens with ‘Koln’ – a new track from (I assume) her ‘forthcoming sophomore album’, set for release in July. It’s punchy, upbeat, with the signature staccato rhythm that defines much of Like I Used To’s less maudlin moments. I like it, then I kind of forget it, then I wait to warm up. Being so impressed by a debut can be a blessing and a curse
“…you’re not a timid crowd, are?” asks Lucy Rose, as my heart sinks a little at the guilt of audience participation and the restrain a Birmingham crowd can show. She is venerated in this city, the numbers are clear, but when you’re touring 18 of them in 22 days a bit of vocal reassurance is understood. I hear people shout “…no”.
An exchange of electric for acoustic signals two tracks from Like I Use To – the first being ‘Lines’, with its instrumentally laconic intro giving way to a full band punch at the first chorus, followed by a short rock out about thirds in. Lucy Rose can often be penned as ‘folk’, or words to such twee effect, but there is something spectacular when she throws her hair back and stamps. A short silence (not much for garrulous on stage banter) then ‘Place’ brings another soft/rock seesaw, before…
“I’m going to try a piano song,” words that will generally pique my interest, and an ethereal swirl of production fills the room like smoke. Another new song, for sure, but a rich ballad with restrained keys is coming off stage. This is new. Beautiful. A sneak peak at the set list tells me it’s called ‘Nebraska’ and if I don’t get to hear it again I might start breaking things.
The rest of the set jumps, as you’d expect, between established tracks from her debut and showcases of songs on her new album – which the universe (Wikipedia) tells me is called Work It Out. They work confidently together as a set, but there is a difference in sound and feel which could challenge an audience hungry for what they know. As Lucy Rose says halfway through, “I’m not sure what tracks to play,” with fifteen in the main set alone to divvy up. But there is as much love for old as there is for the new tonight – with the two biggest cheers of the evening being equally divided.
As for me, it becomes clear when ‘Shiver’ gets played; possibly my favourite track on an album that was pretty much (along with Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm and If I Leave) a schizophrenically repeated soundtrack of my life, for a few months . I love ‘Shiver’, but it isn’t my favourite song of the set this evening; there is something better going on than a personal karaoke.
I leave the Institute at an ironically languid pace, considering the fervent clock ticking that has peppered my day. It’s cold, starting to drizzle, and twenty minutes until the next bus arrives. I go over the course of the evening.
There are moments, chains of events, outcomes that will last longer than any 721 word appraisal, that seem to work out pretty well in the end – and I smile at the upcoming bell ring for Lucy Rose round two.
Plus, in a helpful twist of good fortune and fate, I get to buy a box of Lucy Rose’s ‘Builder Grey’ tea on my way downstairs. Another cross off the list. Perhaps when album three comes around they could sell all day breakfasts as well.
I’ve got fifteen minutes until the bus arrives. Dear merchandise stall…
For more on Lucy Rose, including gig tickets links & pre order points for ‘Our Eyes’ – to be released on April 26th, visit http://www.lucyrosemusic.com/
For further listings from the Birmingham Institute, visit http://theinstitutebirmingham.com/listings/