• Words Chris Farlie Picture John Gillespie

Lucy May - The Islington


Lucy May's last show at this venue was in my view her best to date, it hinted a move in a more soulful direction, which the album "Little by Little" has fulfilled. The question remaining was going to be whether she could bring her two albums into one cohesive show

Reviewing two gigs in one night, a bit like trying to make a connecting flight, depends on everything running smoothly however the queues and delays at The Roundhouse with Thomas Rhett and Old Dominion, combined with a ridiculous number of red lights mean that TEAMw21 arrive just as Lucy is about to commence her third song, the evening though has already been eventful, as during the opening songs ( Hooked On Your Love and Keep Your Hands Off My Man) Lucy had felt the effects of the heat at The Islington which as I arrived was running at somewhere near sub tropical.

On entering Lucy certainly looks the part in a quite stunning silver number that changes colour as the lights catch it. To her left is Lucy Jane Watkins who looks like she could easily be related but who is actually a best friend. Behind her stands regular bass player KT Parker who surely is the most entertaining bass player since Phil Lynnott to watch, as she attempts to extract each note from her instrument with a variety of moves. Funky soulful rhythms will be one of the key drivers to making the evening a success. There is an additional guitarist in Goncalo Charneca as well Jeremy Badcock who as well as playing guitar doubles up on keyboards while at the back is the steady backbeat of Matt Kitto.

The new soulful direction is immediately noticeable on “Counting The Days”, and “Little By Little”, Lucy’s voice settling quite easily into the more soulful groove. The first test of old versus new comes with “Looking Out A Window” which is where KT Parker comes to the fore with one of those aforementioned funky basslines instantly making the song settle comfortably in its new surroundings. The same can also be said of “Paper Heart”, this time though it was the additional backing vocals that made the song seem bigger and richer.

“Don’t Wake Me Up” really shone with its Byrds style guitar line to the front of the mix. Playing in front of producer and co-writer of the majority of the tracks Greg Fitzgerald seemed to additionally inspire Lucy’s performance. Some songs can’t help but raise a smile, the kitch 60’s soul of “Ain’t About You” surely has the makings of a future single or if not that then maybe the emotional roller coaster of “Mixed Emotions” possibly my favourite vocal performance of the night. Speaking of emotions, they were running high when paying tribute to her parents, (47 years together and employed on the tour as Merchandise seller and Tour driver) with “We Got It”

My only slight reservations of the evening came during a couple of back to back songs towards the end of the evening, “Better Off Now” seems to squeeze one too many words into each verse which slightly detracted from the glorious vocal on the chorus while “Rich” which had an almost faux ska backing that did not really sit well with me though I did love the sassy lyrics including mentioning “Manuca honey”.

The final two songs of the main set got things back on track, “I Don’t Want To Miss You Anymore” and a storming “Who You Looking At?” another of the songs beefed up by the additional band members, backing vocals and sounding better than ever.

The end when it came seemed almost understated as just Lucy and Jeremy returned for a very heartfelt “Hole In My Heart”, but it was not quite the end as the inevitable calls went up for the band to return and how else could things finish other than with “Whirlwind”, The heat by now was possibly up to sub Saharan so full credit to the band and indeed the audience for managing to keep going!

Speaking to a number of fans afterwards, many thought it was the performance from her that they had seen to date and I have to concur she looked very much at ease with the expanded band and the new sound.

#LucyMay

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