A sold out Mareel auditorium was treated to a night of quirky music from a local talent who appeared on The Voice, and one whose appearance on The X-Factor has turned her into an international star.
Starting last night’s show was local musician Lisa Ward. No stranger to national TV herself after her appearance on BBC’s The Voice, she was accompanied by Christopher Grant who was providing additional acoustic guitar.
Ward recently suffered a broken vertebrae in an accident, so the show was a comeback of sorts. Referring to the vertebrae brace she was wearing she insisted it was “not a fashion statement”.
She started off with The Perfect Formula, a song from her 2015 EP release Liminal. The jam-packed auditorium (it was close to full capacity at this point) was quite receptive of Ward and she didn’t seem fazed or nervous playing for the big crowd. That isn’t really surprising considering her performance on national TV in front of millions.
Her set featured more songs from her EP such as The Joker, a song which she recently filmed a music video for in Nottingham. The crowd was also treated to Priorities, a track from the recently crowdfunded album of her band Lisa Ward & The XYY, or “The XXYXYYX” as Ward said on stage. “I should probably know my own band’s name”, she declared after that little tongue-twister.
Having seen Ward play numerous times in the past, it’s safe to say that her performance was the best this reviewer has ever heard her sound.
The closing track Brazen, a cover of the Skunk Anansie song, displayed her dynamic vocal range and solidified her confident and strong vocal performance on show.
The auditorium was now at full capacity as the arrival of Lucy Spraggan was received with rapturous applause by a crowd that was largely dominated by young folk.
Before kicking into Coming Home, she told the crowd: “This is my first time in the Shetland Islands and it’s amazing.” The concert was the first night of her 18 date tour around UK and Ireland, in support of her EP Home which was released just a couple of days prior to the gig.
While she usually tours with a backing band, she decided this one would be an intimate gig featuring only her on guitar and a keyboardist accompanying her.
There is a thing about Shetland that when a big gig is on, people will go to it regardless of who is playing. However, it became evident during Lighthouse that the auditorium was comprised mostly of Spraggan fans as the crowd were singing every word of the song back to her.
Spraggan then treated the crowd to a song that she had never performed live before about a friend of hers who had taken his own life. This was the first of the night that showcased the singing/rapping combination that she’s become known for.
Her quirky Yorkshire voice translates surprisingly well into rapping and had this reviewer thinking of a female Adam Guest (my Music Matters predecessor) if he was ever to take up rapping.
The song itself received an extended ovation, and a standing one from those sitting in the balconies with one crowd member declaring loudly that – “that was amazing.”
Her set continued with songs such as Jeremy Kyle, London Bound, and her biggest hit to date Tea & Toast – a song she performed on the X-Factor that famously bought Irish heart-throb and judge Louis Walsh to tears. The crowd again were singing along loudly to every word of this one. It was great at times actually to just stand back and watch the crowd as they were on top form tonight.
When Spraggan declared that her new EP was for sale in the foyer, one reveller asked how much it was. When she said it was £8, the reveller asked for a mate’s rates discount. It is unclear to this reviewer whether he was successful in his quest for seeking a discount.
The night ended with Unsinkable – again with the crowd loudly providing backing vocals – and a song about her time on X-Factor.
“Thanks for being a wonderful audience and helping kick off the tour in a good way,” Spraggan said at the end of the set. “I’ll have to come back and eat lobster.”
Spraggan was brilliant, plain and simple. Don’t let the “X-Factor” tag fool anyone, she is a brilliant songwriter and a great performer.
The queue in the foyer afterwards was a testament to how surprising her following is up in Shetland, with nearly two full rows of people queuing to get a chance of meeting Spraggan. It felt like something you’d see at any big pop concert up and down the country.
Her appearance continues 2016’s current trend of local promoters bringing up high quality and big name acts.