Being the third Monday on the bounce at the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre, I hoped that the audience numbers would be better than the previous 2 shows, I guess being a Monday that was so far towards the end of the month was never going to entice people to come out, regardless of how talented the acts are, would tonight be the same? read on to find out....
We arrived, got our press passes and was surprised to see Lucy Rose and her guitar tech frantically running up and down the queue of people, stamping people’s hands and ushering them into the auditorium (more on this later).
There were 3 acts on this evening so an early start was on the cards, 7:30pm to be precise and as we joined the hoards to slowly move towards the doors, the opening act struck up a tune. C Duncan (Christopher) hails from Glasgow and was recently nominated for the 2015 Mercury Music Prize for his debut album ‘Architect’ (available now), the combination of key led tracks combined with his falsetto voice made for an almost ethereal experience. Normally playing with a drummer but unable to this evening, he relied upon an electronic backbeat to provide the drive for his music. His music is difficult to describe, definitely something you could curl up to on a Sunday morning after a nice bracing walk on the beach with your dogs, the lush vocal harmonies and gentle melodies transporting you to a happy place. I strongly advise you to check this guy out.
A 4 piece act called Flyte were up next, bringing with them a more jaunty, indie jangle accompanied by a light electronic undercurrent again, showcasing some remarkable vocal harmonies that pleased the by now, near capacity crowd. Mixing up their material with a few new ones such as ‘Lets All Try to Break My Heart’ & ’Neighbourhood’ encouraged some of the most polite heckling I’ve ever heard, This was too much for the singer to take and he cheekily threw back some ‘blue’ comments which raised a smile across the room. After announcing that they hadn’t bought any merchandise with them apart from ‘transfer tattoos’ which were available for £1 a time, they broke into their last track ‘Spiral’ which had been written by the keyboard player, an epic melee of sound which proved that this band has just what it takes to create great songs with killer hooks and sing-a-long choruses that the crowds would be joining in with if they had known the words! Definitely an act to watch out for on the 2016 festival circuit.
After a short break, Lucy Rose and her band took to the stage, her in her trademark white sneakers and glorious fringe, launching straight into ‘Cover Up’, with the guitar’s high notes matching Lucy’s vocals whilst the drums and percussion creating a stunning backdrop. ‘Lines’ sounded sublime with its off kilter beat and gentle acoustic guitar, Lucy’s voice sounding superb despite her admitting that she was recovering from a cold and could only hear in one ear! I mentioned earlier that Lucy and her guitar tech were running up and down the queue, stamping people’s hands, she said that the reason she did this was C Duncan was about to kick off his set and there was hardly any people in the room (as they were all in the queue!) and she really wanted people to get in there to hear him, hence she was helping the door staff out! ’Nebraska’ saw Lucy ditch the guitar and take to the keys, her light vocals, backed by the keyboard player floated over the light bass and drums, exquisite stuff indeed.
‘She’ll Move’ saw Lucy on vocal duties whilst the super talented guitarist created a dreamy soundscape, allowing Lucy’s almost tip-toe like vocals to blend seamlessly, the track slowly growing into a crashing cacophony of din in a matter of seconds, like a beast, wanting to be tamed but showing it’s ferocity when you least expected it. The members of Flyte took to the stage to join Lucy on vocals for ‘Like an Arrow’, they reminded me of a group of carol singers huddled around a lantern on a cold Christmas Eve. ‘Shiver’ was a far more heavier offering with some great atmospheric, almost eery guitar work, ‘Middle of the Bed’ was a slow burner which soon gained momentum, like a sepia tone image turning into colour, like a butterfly bursting from a cocoon, erupting into life. ‘Our Eyes’ provided a much more dancier offering to the mix and led nicely into her last track ‘Sheffield’.
After a short break, Lucy returned to the stage on her own and knocked out a stripped back version of ‘Into the Wild’ which sounded sublime, just her voice, vulnerable but more than capable of surviving the elements.
Throughout the set she thanked the crowd continually for turning up to see her, she looked almost bemused as to why they would want to come and watch her, maybe it’s something to do with the fact that she’s an amazing singer songwriter and her fanbase want to show her just how much her music means to them?
We left soon after the show ended but Lucy was at the merch table, signing autographs, posing for selfies and chatting to anyone who wanted to have a natter, goodness knows what time she got away from there, I only hope that with her ailments, she was tucked up in bed by 11:30 with a nice mug of milky Horlicks and a hot water bottle!
Words Steve Muscutt
Photography Julian Baird & Steve Muscutt