The Camden Barfly, to me, has always epitomised the London life I longed for when living in Norfolk, before I moved close to London two years ago. Standing at the end of Camden Market, it seemed like the place non-London types like me should go, to be initiated into the gritty urban life of the city.
This seems to be the same feeling coming from Blackpool-based support act Rae Morris, who stuns a surprisingly large crowd into silence with her set of still relatively unheard of wonders. Though I found it hard to take my eyes from her amazing hair, which is almost as big as her voice, I, along with everyone else, was instantly captivated by her. Highlights came from the anthemic Day One and sweetly poignant Oldest of New. Confidently, as she sits solo behind her keyboard, she tells the crowd that ‘this is a big gig’. And after a slot on the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading and Leeds last year, and landing a support slot with Lucy Rose, it seems things will only get greater for the big-haired Blackpool gem.
The real feeling of being part of the underground hub of new music took over me, however, when fans began to shuffle and part to let Lucy Rose, along with her full band, enter from a door halfway into the crowd. Taking to the stage with a beer in hand, she ripped straight into debut single Middle of the Bed with flawless, but vitally raw, vocals which show her for the real London indie star she is.
The real charm of the show came from Lucy Rose herself and her obviously comfortable and large stage presence, sharing anecdotes of her mum arranging The Fly magazines with her face on the cover, to the top of the pile in her local HMV. Swigging a beer between each song and throwing a brand new, still to be mixed song in as number two on her setlist, the humble confidence of someone who is well aware of her own success, shines through.
After being introduced to Lucy Rose through the unassuming, timid videos of her performing Night Bus, for example, many of the crowd were blown back by the tight power of Rose and her live band. In penultimate song Bikes, greeted by knowing screams in anticipation of the chorus, in which she invites everyone to ‘scream out loud’, there doesn’t seem to be one person who holds back and the contented smile that spreads across her face hopefully means she’ll be doing this for as long as crowds keep reacting that way; which, believe me, will be for a good while yet.
Closer, Scar, keeps up the high tempo with its upbeat drummed opening and is a perfect ending as everyone once again falls into a silent appreciation. You can feel each person leaning slightly forward as her rippling voice echoes around each corner of the small venue. The Barfly provided a perfect low-key setting for such a big gig as this; a different effect than I expected from the acoustic, harmonious girl that has been compared somewhat lazily to Laura Marling. With a gig like this, one which was full of refined musicianship and passion, raw character and energy, it is safe to say she no longer needs any comparisons for her to get by.