Live Review: Lissie – Union Chapel, London

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The inspiring setting of the Union Chapel in Islington, a fully functioning church and much aspired-to music venue, played host the uncontainable spirit of American folk singer Lissie Maurus for the second time. An accomplished and confident performer, Lissie’s warm country soul felt as comforting as the smell of mulled wine wafting through the church, and it was endearing to see her infectious energy shining through to an audience who certainly didn’t need winning over.

Powering through an acoustic solo set that weaved from country soul to barely pared down versions of her grunge inspired hits, she assured the audience that all was well with her band although hinted that her show in Shepherd’s Bush in 2016 could well be solo too. The absence of Eric, Lewis and Jessie, however, was barely noticeable with the insuppressible strength of her vocals soaring and reverbing off the historic walls of the Union Chapel creating a full-bodied, all encompassing sound.

Although chatty, Lissie doesn’t waste time between songs or allow the energy to falter at any moment, flipping between robust singles including Shameless and When I’m Alone, all the while inviting the audience to join her in more personal moments for likes of They All Want You, a heart-wrenching experience of unrequited love.

Playing songs from her latest album, My Wild West, showcased a perhaps her most personal work to date and certainly embraces her celebration of Midwest heritage. Sun Keeps Risin’, a deeply personal and breathtaking expression of grief for the loss of her beloved aunt, was enough to floor the entire room into stunning silence, while the commanding instance of Daughters, a track introduced whilst urging women to become agents of peace in troubled times, only served to prove her merit as an articulate, intelligent songwriter.

No stranger to a cover song (a quick YouTube search reveals covers from Fleetwood Mac to Lady Gaga, and Lynyrd Skynyrd to Danzig), fans were treated to a special ‘holiday’ song – Joni Mitchell’s River – towards the end of the show, which she conquered beautifully.

For a complete newcomer to Lissie’s wealth of talent, it look less than 2 hours to be utterly charmed into submission by those incredible lungs and Midwest sparkle. Any comparisons that can be drawn between the likes of her and other equally as ballsy, talented artists – Stevie Nicks is the easiest likeness to pick out – might be accurate, but Lissie stands in a league of her own.

Kerry Manning