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Lewis Capaldi - Manchester Club Academy - Gig Review

The opening act for the evening was Au/Ra, an artist that was previously unknown to me. She begun with her most popular song ‘Concrete Jungle’, the acoustic version of which has amassed over 17 million streams on Spotify. Her character and stage presence struck me as familiar, with her dance style and movement akin to that of Sigrid, another upcoming artist. As her following grows, her confidence and natural flare that she possesses will surely evolve into an even more engaging act.

Melodically her songs really showcase talent and creativity, though I couldn’t help but feel at times her voice was drowned out by some of the bass, that being said, that issue can be put down to a slight production error. All area of doubt however was redeemed for me when she sung an outstanding acoustic cover of Dua Lipa’s ‘New Rules’. It was here that Au/Ra really flaunted her vocal capacity and the extent of her range in a very strong way, without having a heavy production to hide behind.

Her latest release ‘Panic Room’, that debuted on Spotify on the 9th February was my personal favourite of her original songs, it spoke of issues of anxiety and self-doubt, but instead of being melodically downbeat as one might assume a song regarding those issues would be, it had an almost sinister undertone, but very much in a good way. Au/Ra’s song ‘Outsiders’ was also lyrically intriguing, with the hook reciting lines that I recognised the influence of immediately. ‘We don’t need no reputation, we don’t need no thought control’. It wasn’t until I did some research into the song that I discovered that the hook wasn’t just a light reference, but was directly sampled from Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)’. This was a very welcome surprise and she did the regarded lyrics an honour.

Lewis Capaldi’s set began at a prompt 9pm, jumping straight into an unreleased song, the name of which was not disclosed to the crowd. His presence on stage was immediately welcomed by a long wave of cheer and whistling, to which at the end of his first song, he humbly introduced himself.

Capaldi’s stage presence and ability to connect with his crowd was remarkable to see, with him cracking wise with consistent self-deprecating remarks about how we only came to listen to his songs from the EP that we all know and can sing along to. If it wasn’t for his rapidly growing musical career, which again he joked about as not being likely to last, Capaldi would have made a brilliant stand-up comedian, with his endearingly thick West Lothian accent complementing everything he said.

The singer continued his set after warning the crowds of his tendency to ‘talk a load of pish’ in-between songs. Mercy was Capaldi’s second song, which was instantly recognised and appreciated with even louder shouts of joy. Having already released Mercy in his ‘Bloom’ EP, it was my first opportunity to compare the studio version to his live performance. I couldn’t even begin to articulate how it’s possible for a singer to sound even better live than they do on the studio track, it just doesn’t make logical sense. Yet it’s true. He knocked the song out of the park and hit every note to perfection. In terms of live performances regarding an artists voice in comparison to their original track, Capaldi is the greatest act I’ve ever seen live. Hands down.

Up next was another unreleased song that really captured my heart, and was undoubtedly my favourite of his unreleased material. ‘Grace’ was beautiful in every sense that a song can be, and whilst not initially striking me as similar to the tracks on ‘Bloom’, it blew my expectations and yet again raised the bar for Capaldi’s word crafting talent.

Followed by this was ‘Lost On You’, another from the EP. The next four songs however were even more unreleased material. ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’, ‘Rush’, ‘Tough’ and ‘Something Borrowed’. All of which are welcomed material to Capaldi’s growing discography. ‘Rush’ is due to be released on the 23rd February, and is something I am highly anticipating listening to again. ‘Tough’ was a surprising song for Capaldi, as he even mentioned himself, it’s far more upbeat with a heavier production. It proved to me that Capaldi can do more than be the brooding songwriter we’ve come to know him as, but someone who can also create spirit lifting music too.

To conclude the gig, Capaldi finished off the two remaining songs from his EP, starting with ‘Fade’ before taking a short encore break, which he again crack wised about as something he didn’t really understand the meaning of, bus was ‘just something that we do’. He finished with ‘Bruises’ which had almost every member of the crowd, myself included, with phones in the air recording the magical moment.

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening and can’t wait to see him again.

Remember, look out for Lewis Capaldi’s next release from the 23rd February, ‘Rush’.

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