It was a mixture of excitement and nervous anticipation that greeted me as I entered O2 Bristol Academy a fortnight ago. With a band like London Grammar, who sound so incredible on record, there’s always a terrible risk that they won’t quite live up to these standards with their live performance.
I managed to expertly miss the first act on stage as I was too busy eating a Fiorentina at Pizza Express. However their name is Khushi and I hear they’re pretty good, so maybe you should check them out if you’re looking for some new music. I managed to get to the Academy in time for the first interval. It was my second time at the venue, and I have to say that despite it’s odd boxy shape I rather like it. The benefit of a venue being extra wide and not very deep means that you are pretty much right in front of the stage no matter where you stand. On top of this, the sound is incredible, which only served to emphasise the flawlessness of the evening’s performances.
First to the stage were Say Lou Lou, a.k.a. Elektra and Miranda Kilbey. This Scandinavian duo were nominated for BBC Sound of 2014 last year, a fact that doesn’t surprise me at all as Say Lou Lou’s 80s-influenced synth chords are right up my street. The girls gave a faultless yet quirky performance. While the blonde-haired sister stood glued to one spot throughout the set, she captured the audience by delivering consistent dreamy vocals. Meanwhile her dark-haired sibling looked like she’d stepped right out of a heartfelt music video for a powerful ballad from 30 years ago. Constant air grasps and dramatic head flicks provided much entertainment. The best thing about the girls’ performance is you could tell they were having a blast, and this atmosphere leaked into the audience. I recommend checking these two out if you’re a fan of Haim, Gems, or Chairlift.
Next up: London Grammar. After what felt like an excruciatingly long wait at the interval, Dom (the one with the funny hair) finally appeared on stage alongside guitarist, Dan. One of my favourite activities of the evening revolved around guessing which instrument Dom would play next - would it be the bongo drum? Would he press a funny button on his Launch Pad and make a weird sound? Maybe a little bit of keyboard? There’s no denying the talent of these two young men, who held the stage between them during Hannah’s absences.
But there’s no doubt in my mind that Hannah Reid absolutely stole the show. As soon as she took to the stage, to a round of very loud, very enthusiastic applause, the whole mood of the room changed. Everyone became deadly silent, completely consumed by any sound that Reid uttered. Their set opened with a rendition of Hey Now, introduced by a series of long, heartfelt “Heys” from the vocalist. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was spectacular. I reckon I’d pay to listen to Hannah Reid sing the phonebook. Overall, their setlist was perfect (in my opinion). All their best tracks were in there, including a few extras that I hadn’t bargained on hearing. My favourite part of the evening was the encore, where Hannah took to the stage all by herself (albeit admitting she was very nervous to play alone) and performed If You Wait, piano and all. This was followed by lead single from the album, Metal & Dust; the layering of instruments and loud, echoing vocals culminated to create a wall of sound. A spectacular finish to a flawless set that I didn’t want to come to an end.