Live Review: Lucy Rose – Oran Mor, Glasgow

Moving to a new city can be difficult for some people, especially one as cold and wet as Glasgow (I believe the word is ‘dreich’). You don’t know your way around, everything seems to have a different name (“it’s a roll and sausage, not a sausage butty”) and every time you open your mouth you are acutely aware that you are very, very English. So, at times like this, you need some home comforts. Lucy Rose is one such comfort.

Born in Surrey, the aptly named Rose is as quintessentially English as it gets. Even in the gaelic-named Oran Mor (their website informs me that this translates to ‘great melody of life’), Rose’s demure charm and wit make it easy for her to win over those Glaswegians who were ‘coerced’ into attending – a straw poll conducted by Lucy half way through the set suggests that about half those present had been brought along by friends or loved ones. I am reliably informed the word for it here is ‘patter’, and the singer-songwriter has it by the bucket load. Whether it is bashfully apologising to staff members for complaining about the way chairs were set out or needing a translator to decipher a heckle of “aye, right!” (which, to be fair, did come out of nowhere); Rose has that quality often found in people who are supremely comfortable on stage – they make you feel like you have popped round theirs for a nice cup of good old-fashioned English breakfast tea.

Conversely, and certainly not to its detriment, Rose’s songs and her performance of them are beautiful, gripping and simultaneously delicate, her band having occasionally to creep from one instrument to another mid-song so as not to disturb anyone. She herself admits the half seated style of the gig was to ‘deliberately keep you quiet’ but you can’t help but think that that wasn’t necessary – especially during enchanting solo performances of Our Eyes and End Up Here. The latter apparently dropped from the set by Rose until her husband and guitar tech handed her the instrument she uses to play the recently-released track – leading to a debate with the audience of the merits of making him stand on stage whilst she plays. “I think that would be more awkward for me” explains Rose, “but I do like the idea of punishment”. Most of the set is taken from Rose’s third and most recent album Something’s Changing, including singles No Good At All and Second Chance, but there are appearances from her first release, not least a spellbinding version of Shiver and a recital of Bikes which is paused mid-song as only one punter remembered to shout at the correct moment (an incident rightly described as ‘pathetic’ by the singer).

Rose is backed by a band she clearly enjoys playing with, and it is not difficult to see why. Especially with the option of sultry backing vocals courtesy of a bass player who must be comfortably six foot, bearded and with the voice of an absolute angel – most notable on tracks like Floral Dresses (the album version of which is backed by The Staves) and encore Like An Arrow.

The sultry performance, Rose’s allure and the welcome contributions of Glasgow’s good people made the whole night feel like a warm hug. Never was that more so than before the final track of the set, Find Myself, when Rose informs her audience that someone had that day brought her an enormous, homemade, teapot-shaped cake (with concomitant tea cup and doughnut cakes). The reason? Apparently after her second record, Rose felt diffident, lacked confidence and admits she wasn’t sure if she was to continue with music – the cake was an attempt to ensure she knew what she did was appreciated. Rose was obviously delighted and touched at this real life example of Glasgow’s tourist board’s slogan; People Make Glasgow. Hopefully that cake has done the job; it certainly put my mind at ease.

James Beck