Sunflower Thieves are duo Amy Illingworth and Lily Sturt-Bolshaw. They are childhood friends that have come to make music together and the contrast in their vocals is another thing that has bonded their friendship.
Last year they released the much loved Two Halves and have followed that up with Heavy Weight, released at the end of September, and a tour they are currently embarking on which kicked off at Tynemouth’s Surf Cafe a few weeks back.
I first saw Amy and Lily perform a totally unplugged set at the Newcastle branch of Sofar Sounds and they were immediately captivating, especially as they let their vocals shine, sandwiched between two acts that were fully plugged in. This time around they were backed with a bassist (Joe) and a drummer (Dan) and it took nothing away from their performance but added to the fact that they do belong on that stage.
They opened with an oldie, Oh Well, and took us through a lovely catalogue of work leading up to that new single Heavy Weight, with Tynemouth getting the exclusive of hearing it with a full band. On the streaming sites it has an acoustic feel to it. With this performance they didn’t change it up too much and with the song being about hopelessness of feeling suffocated by social anxiety, the added instrumentation enveloped the lyrics “you’re holding out aching for a change,” and “all your friends have unfamiliar faces” just right.
Sunflower Thieves ended their set with Two Halves, a song about ‘a close friend in a vulnerable place.’ A song that was one my most heavily rotated songs on a certain streaming site last year, because of the way Amy and Lily deliver such a message with so much warmth in their singing. There is really something in their different tonal styles that adds to their performance and makes each note become quite personal to the listener. Amy and Lily make you feel each word and seeing them perform their material live makes it that much more comforting.
Catching Sunflower Thieves play these imitate venues is something special and something to cherish.
Words & Images by Victoria Wai