Laura Oakes, Two Ways Home - The Borderline
A second viewing of Two Ways Home in less than a week, but anyone expecting a replica performance would have been in for a pleasant surprise. About two thirds of the material played was different, and a scaled up venue meant a scaled up performance with the addition of an extra guitarist. Lewis and Izzy kicked off in strident form with the title track of their most recent EP “Closest Stranger”, still with the trademark harmonies but in this line up slightly more rootsier
They then raided a previous EP for their prison song, the relatively light sentence for a gun crime “2 Years”! with Izzy accompanying on tambourine. A relative quiet opening led into a great “Best Part Of Me” while their Logan Brill co write “Don’t Give Up On Me Tonight” had the crowd around us singing along.
One of the few songs repeated from Friday’s In The Round session was their Spotify only song “Take My Hand” with Izzy giving a tremendously expressive performance. For the next song “No Longer Mine” the expanded line up, along with Lewis on stomp box, gave a superb deep southern feel. The “drum” sound carried on through the ever catchy “Push and Pull” which saw Izzy join in on mandolin. To close out a very strong set, they played “Just For Now” which once again had large sections of the crowd singing along which can only be a good sign of the fan base they are accruing.
As an entrance Laura Oakes band provided a Who style Baba O’Reilly backing, before Laura eventually appeared in a sparkling dress to kick things off proper with a funky “Better In Blue Jeans” with the band providing the additional backing vocals, before strapping on a guitar to play another song from the new EP “Lazy”.
The evening really kicked up another gear when the band just softened their sound slightly with the excellent “Whatever you Want”, apparently the first song that set Laura on her country route. It was then time for another run of songs from the new EP, the joyful “Glitter” with its cheeky chorus that is destined to become a firm favourite, “Nashville Stole Your Girl” an exceptionally strong ballad with a number of knowing country references and as ever, an Elton John cover, this time a truly beautiful version of “Cage The Songbird” that saw Laura in exceptionally fine voice. The acoustic part of the set ended with a song not on the EP. and the majority of the band leaving the stage apart from guitarist Pete Darling, for an amazing performance of a truly excellent song “Family Tree” a great piece of writing.
The final section saw a return to the volume but that was not an issue as it was now party time and the final trio of Don’t Let It Hit Ya”, “Dreaming” and “Snakes and Ladders” brought things to a climax with the audience joining in at the requisite moments. The evening was to end in a simple, yet most spectacular fashion, as the band were dispatched early to the bar and it was just Laura who emerged with a guitar to perform a wonderful version of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery”. It does make you wish for just an evening of just Laura and her guitar, it was that special.