Living in Cornwall often has its drawbacks when it comes to seeing acts not from the South West. So often do we see the latest tour schedule of our favourite bands stop at Bristol or Bournemouth. But every now and then it works in our favour, as we get treated to special gigs, and secret shows. One such ‘special’ gig happened to be Lucy Rose’s appearance at the Barefoot Amphitheater in Gunwalloe. There is a lot of buzz about Lucy, and for once it seems totally justified. Those who were luck enough to be at Leopallooza a few short weeks ago were treated to what Lucy had to offer when she played the headline slot and closed the festival on the Sunday. It would be interesting to see how different her performance would be when she was top of the bill at her own gig, rather than a festival slot.
Unfortunately the weather conspired against us, and what promised to be a beautiful outdoor gig overlooking the delights of the Lizard Peninsular was scuppered. As luck would have it the lovely guys at The Barefoot Kitchen have a plan b. The gig was moved indoors to the equally pretty, but slightly more congested Orangery. The stage looked a bit congested for the plethora of different instruments that accompany Lucy and her band, but for now there were also 2 solo acoustic artists to open the show.
Harry Fricker, who also happens to be the local chef in residence at Barefoot took the stage and looked very comfortable in familiar surroundings. He has a nice warmth about his voice, very similar to that of Dave Matthews. At times Harry’s playing style got a bit messy, but he held it together for the most part and departed the stage to a warm reception. Don’t expect to see Harry around for a while, he’s bound for Canada for an extended stay.
It’s safe to say Neil Halstead has a great many admirers, but on tonight’s showing unfortunately Clean Slate Music won’t be joining them. While his guitar playing and chord structures are great, Neil’s voice just failed to inspire and came over a little bit too Ralph McTell. I don’t know whether he was tired or not feeling the night but everything seemed a bit laboured from the lackadaisical way he finished songs to how he addressed the audience, it all seemed a bit of a chore.
Before we get on to Lucy, I’d like to air a grievance that has been bugging me for many a year. Why, when you’re at a gig to see a certain style of music does the music played over the PA in-between performers generally have nothing to do with the style of performers at that gig. Last night we were blasted with an assortment of reggae, which considering all performers were subtle acoustic players, you’d think that quiet acoustic style music would keep the vibe going while sets are changed over…it baffles me. If anyone can explain it I’d love to know why this is the norm.
After a brief changeover, Lucy Rose and her band took the stage to as rapturous a reception a hundred or so people can make. The small venue was so full that some guests had to make do with looking in from outside the venue through a porthole shaped window. Opening with ‘Middle of the Bed’ that trademark dramatic strum which Lucy employs to fantastic effect in many of her songs is already worked in to the extended intro before she launches into the song as it is recorded.
Backed by her very capable band who embellish every aspect of Lucy’s music without ever stepping on her toes. Especially impressive throughout the performance is the lead guitar work of Björn Ågren (ex Razorlight) whose delicate work on his stunning Hofner VeryThin Classic is so subtle, but adds so much quality to the overall sound, speaking to Björn afterwards he said he always tries to just play quietly.
Everything about Rose’s performance is intriguing, and in a genre that would resemble a well trodden path, she manages to stay totally fresh. Her playing style is clean and resonant, at all times her acoustic guitar is audible, and is always the root of each song. Her vocals are clean, unique and understated, again in perfect keeping with everything going on around her. Lucy has obviously taken the time to hone her sound and develop it with the band and the results are obviously paying dividends.
With as set comprised mostly with tracks off her forthcoming début album ‘Like I Used To’ which will be released on the 24th of September, Lucy still found space to include favourites like the surprisingly absent from her album ‘Scar’ (unless you buy the deluxe version). Lucy was obviously having a lot of fun, and constantly interacted with the small kids who had worked their way to the front, during ‘Bikes’ she got a thunderous noise when asking everyone to ‘Scream Out Loud’, the smile on Lucy’s face went from ear to ear. Ending her set on the wonderful ‘Red Face’ Lucy departed to huge cheers for an encore, to which she duly obliged coming back out to play ‘First’ which she told the crowd she didn’t often play, so that was the cherry on top of a beautiful cake for the evening.
At all times Lucy was pleasant, and obviously thankful to have the opportunity to play in such a unique venue. Hopefully this gig will live long in the memory of both those in attendance and for Lucy herself, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be remiss to say that once she’s the superstar we all hope she will become, that she remembers places like The Barefoot Kitchen/Orangery/Amphitheatre and the wonderful reception she got in Cornwall.