‘Can’t write these things without mentioning the supports act(s) if the headliner has considered such inclusion and what REVELATIONS we have tonight, folks! Lucy Rose invited 16 year old Billie Marten to open proceedings at Manchester Academy 3, this evening. Good gracious, the kid has absolutely NO FEAR whatsoever. Without any band to back the songs, Billie relies on her voice and guitar only which is a brave, BRAVE gig, indeed. I’m telling you that she has pure, raw TALENT. Her songs sound like those of a fully mature, recording artist- Eva Cassidy, perhaps- rather than those of a teenager; “Unaware”, “Ribbon”, “Bird”, even a cover of Royal Blood’s “Out Of The Black” (wtf?). She has to be heard to be believed (try “Ont Sofa Sessions” on youtube).
What can I tell you about Jake Isaac? He has that “Del Boy” air about him but, my God, the ENERGY of the man! Jake’s vibe is a kind of feel-good, South African/Paul Simon, Dance type of thing played by a guitar-led, four piece band. It’s hard to visualise, I know, but it works so well and Mr. Isaac even got the old Simo tapping his feet along to some irresistible beats. At one point he, literally, plays a song on an acoustic guitar right in the middle of the crowd (‘never saw that before in 28 years of concert-going). MASSIVE guy, MASSIVE personality, MASSIVE music.
Rose herself arrives onstage with full band to the background music of “Fly High-Interlude” from new album “Work It Out.” She played Gorilla here in Manchester back in March and it’s the first night of her Autumn, U.K. Tour. First single in 2015, “Like An Arrow”, fires off our Lucy-Fest in a C & W-stylee and, once more, she’s actually STANDING this time. “Cover Up” follows on swiftly, starting with a vaguely Oriental intro but progressing into the first of this evening’s rock-outs. Lucy Rose head-banging??? Hard to believe but, yes, it’s true. She sings “For You” with those beautiful, affecting vocals before her first chance to chat with us, ”How are you guys doing tonight?”, “ First gig back from Europe!”, and so on in that sweetly informal, uninhibited way.
The first of two songs from debut album, “Like I Used To”, is played next, “Watch Over” (before “Middle Of The Bed”). There’s an obvious love for these older ones as the noise level of the audience indicates. We’re treated to a rock-out guitar solo on “Watch Over” whilst “Middle Of The Bed” (one of the highlights of the show) ends with an exhilarated Lucy Rose shouting, “ALRIGHT, MANCHESTER!?!” She switches to keyboards/piano for one of my fave tracks, sixth number, “ Nebraska ”, which is about “being on the road”, apparently.
There’s always a “Favourite Simo Moment Of The Evening” and we’ve arrived at it already. “Shelter” reminds me of The Sundays for some reason but there’s a sting in the tail:- my realisation that when I was listening to “Reading Writing And Arithmetic” in 1990, Lucy was only one year old (noooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!). The extended jam bit at the end of “Shelter” segues into “Shiver” as her band rocks-out to FUCK. They utilise a “Hawaiian guitar” sound on “Shiver” and, I must say, the audience singing back to them at the end is an unbelievably thrilling moment. We all, er, shiver like we used to. Rose goes all confidential on us as she introduces “She’ll Move” revealing that the person who inspired the song is in the room. I get quite emotional during her guitar-less delivery.
Someone shouts out for “Lines” prompting L.R. to announce, “Just in time, that’s never happened before”, duly obliging with a bass-heavy version of the song. One gets a sense of just how loved her first album is from the reaction to this material although I don’t make good on my promise to heckle, “Judas!” Lucy introduces bass guitar player Johnny Seymour before commencing “Koln” during which I speculate that both Rose and Jake Isaac have listened to “ Graceland ” quite a lot—? We’re all very much IN THE MOOD, now, with possible high-point of tonight’s gig rapidly approaching, “Till The End.” Subject of gorgeous, recent remixing by Manchester-based Lake Komo , it’s certainly another Richie Rochdale fave. At the end of it, we’re in something close to a frenzy!
Some strange farting noises from the band prompt our Heroine to suggest, “It’s like having your grandmother onstage”, before we’re head-first into “Bikes.” Yet ANOTHER highlight amongst so many highlights, there’s a feeling we might be close to the end of this fabulous set—. “Everybody scream out loud!” and, of course, how can we refuse? Most recent single “Our Eyes” is the closer. It’s also the song which introduced me to Lucy Rose by way of John Kennedy’s “X-Posure” radio show. I bop along to an Eighties Pop sound being quite saddened at our evening’s finality. Reasonable to assume that there will be encores, we’re introduced to keyboardist Alex Eichenberger but, strangely, not to the remainder of the band who are “new boy” Ben Burrows on guitar and Sam Nadel on drums. “See you guys soon”, says the Boss. Very soon, we hope.
After mucho chorusing of “We want more!”, the Boss does indeed see us again. “I was shitting it that you didn’t want any more!” she answers back. “Red Face” is the first of three additional songs at the end of which our Lucy admits to being a bit sweaty. She threatens to show off her boobs but, rather disappointingly, reveals only a Bruno Mars t-shirt instead. New album title-track, “Work It Out”, is played by Ms. Rose on keyboards after the frank admission, “It’s the first time we’ve played this. We weren’t brave enough to play it before.” She shouldn’t have worried, it’s played perfectly. After touching acknowledgements of the support acts, Lucy tells us that she wants to make more music because of us. It’s a tender and genuine moment before VERY last one, “Into The Wild”, which she plays alone with electric guitar. Somehow, after all of the evening’s triumphs, she fucks up this last song, stopping and complaining of guitar distortion. We don’t care and we DEMAND that she completes the song, distortion or no distortion! Having finished the job off, Lucy Rose sadly shakes her head at the offending guitar, says “Sorry” and leaves the stage. Don’t be sorry for one second of any of it, Lucy.
Lucy Rose’s live band:-
Lucy Rose- vocals, guitar, keyboards,
Ben Burrows- guitar,
Johnny Seymour- bass guitar, backing vocals,
Alex Eichenberger- keyboards, backing vocals,