Photo: Maren Farra
See more photos from the gig at www.marenfarra.com
Review by Clare Knight
28/10/13 KOKO Camden, London
The storm had been raging in London and tree branches were falling down everywhere, even right outside the Camden venue that was to host Lissie’s sold out London show. But we didn’t worry too much about that – we just wanted to see the American songwriter strut her stuff and hear the new songs from her latest album, Back to Forever. It has been years since we first got into her music, why not have a look back at our interview with Lissie (she even raps for us!)
Arriving in time to see Bruno Major’s support slot performance was great! He is clearly a talented songwriter and also an impressive guitarist. He had the audiences attention, which I often think is a difficult thing for support acts of big artists. I could see a similarity to John Mayer in his guitar playing and I would not be surprised if Bob Dylan is a huge songwriting influence for him. I found myself listening to the lyrics of songs like Old Fashioned quite intently and being surprised by my appreciation of them. His band were providing most of the songs with harmonies that resonated throughout KOKO and they definitely knew how to let rip on the blues solos as well. Upon announcing that he was going to perform a cover of Ray Charles, I heard a crowd member shout out “it better be good!” and I wondered if this man would be won over by the end of it. As soon as the first few guitar notes of Losing Hand were played, the man was listening closely and by the time Bruno had launched into his first rawing guitar solo the man was lapping it up. I think he approved!
After a relatively short change over on stage, Cali Swag District’s hit track Teach Me How To Dougie started playing and out came Lissie to a deafening cheer. The band now consists for four members (including Lissie) as she has added a talented multi-instrumentalist who played drums, lap steel guitar, keys and sang harmonies. He is a welcome addition to the already talented musicians that she plays with. The set was an even mixture of popular tracks from her debut album Catching A Tiger and her latest release, Back To Forever. It were songs like When I’m Alone and In Sleep that got the biggest reaction from the crowd and I fully appreciated the extended guitar solos from the guitarist in these tracks. Little Lovin’ was also a surprise favourite with the fans and was a song that got the rather tame crowd moving. Not all of the tracks were foot stomping guitar wailing tracks and there was a beautiful moment when the beginning of Everywhere I Go started and the crowd fell silent, only to sing along very loudly in the chorus.
It wasn’t all about the songs from the debut album though! Lissie’s newest single, Sleepwalking which has a distinct Bruce Springsteen vibe about it was better than on the record as it was a bit more raw and rough around the edges. I heard another crowd member say, “I hope she plays Cold Fish, it’s my favourite!” and although she didn’t play it the girl was perfectly happy singing/screaming along to Further Away (Romance Police) and Shameless. A definite appreciation was vocalised for I Don’t Want To Go To Work… can’t think why. Although some have said that Back To Forever is a darker album I think it just has more of a rock edge and more attitude, which is how the new music comes across live. There were 16 songs on the setlist at KOKO and in between each of them Lissie was at ease with chatting to the crowd whilst drinking tea followed by a shot of tequila!
After some noisy cheering from the crowd Lissie returned to stage for an encore that consisted of a track from Catching A Tiger and a Kid Cudi cover. Mississippi was a mellow song to start the encore off with and Lissie mentioned it was an ode to her hometown and how at a young age she had not fully appreciated it. Then came the Pursuit of Happiness cover which is the band’s favourite cover to do. Lissie is a talented writer and I love that at times the huskiness of her voice reminds me of Stevie Nicks. (I bet she’s never had that comparison before…) Having seen her perform live a few times in the past few years I would say she looks the most comfortable on stage performing these tracks now, it’s like being invited to a cool party and watching from the sidelines – enjoying every minute of it!
Lissie will be back in London in March at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, probably for a sold out show so make sure you get your tickets soon. (Links are in the sidebar!)