With the 2018 summer showing no sign of abating temperatures in the subterranean Troubadour were pretty hot even as support act Luke Yates took to the stage for a short but entertaining six song set. He opened with "No Man's Land" a song about not getting the girl but which when reflected back turned out to be a key moment in his live. Immensely likeable he had a stage presence that immediately endeared you to him, so much so that an early singalong attempt on the happier song "Going Back" went very well.
There was a debut for "Citadel" which came with an exceptionally bright and faster chorus and along with a great cover of OneRepublic's "Come Home" for which Luke switched to keyboards at which he was equally adept.
It was back to guitar for "High Life" which came with an interesting back story and it was noticeable that Luke's guitar style is no idle strumming seemingly picking out quite intricate pieces. The closing song "Crash and Burn" was a little different from its predecessors with a much snappier style of delivery. With an EP in the offing Luke Yates could well be a name to keep an eye on.
The reason for us all gathering though was the launch of Lauren Ray's new EP "Inside This Silence", and on arrival it was nice to see a little polaroid on the table from the lady herself thanking us four our support. Playing with a band for the first time in three years this was a chance to not just showcase the new EP and previous releases but to give us a sneak preview into what might be contained within album two. Sitting behind her trusty if weighty keyboard that has seen her through tours around Europe with Anastacia through to this years Buckle & Boots Festival she kicked off with "Be A Man" from the new EP, in fact 2 songs from the EP would bookend the start and end of the main show . The band as such with a cajon player and guitarist would help fill out the sound a little but it was Lauren's voice and keyboard playing that were the stars of the show. Next from the EP was "Dull Ache", the excellent single from earlier in the year, tonight sounding perhaps slightly rockier and a little faster than the recorded version,
The mood was positively jolly for the next few songs, "One Of The Lucky Ones" undoubtedly Lauren's most upbeat song to date followed by the Mark Twain quote inspired "2 Days" during which Lauren seemed to be visibly melting under the heat of the lights!.
If there is one thing that Lauren excels in, it is wrapping hard hitting issues in gorgeous tunes and never more so than into "Come To Me" which deals with being there for someone in a toxic relationship.
Letting the band take a refreshing drink, there was a chance to hear what Lauren might have in store for album two with a couple of recently written tunes. The first of these "What We Came Here For" needed little introduction as everything is pretty much explained in the lyrics of what was one of the most brutally emotionally honest songs I've heard in a long while, possibly almost too revealing. The second "I Decided On You" was again very uplifting with the "You" in the chorus stretching out over many syllables.
It was back the her debut album for "Drive" which was delivered with an effortlessly beautiful ease before hitting the home straight returning to the EP. First there was the funky sounding "Upstream" sounding extremely positive in a song about not giving up, while for "Black Wings" Laurens playing took on an almost jazzy blues feel.
Initially that seemed as if it would be it as she left the stage and the PA started playing music but such was the clamour that an additional song was demanded and after asking the audience for suggestions Lauren settled on a solo performance of "Unexpected Man" bringing the EP launch to a great conclusion.