Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Lissie rocks Shepherd's Bush

If you want to be a rock star, here's a top tip: Step back when you finish singing a line, pause for a little too long, then launch yourself at the mic just in the nick of time to belt out the next lyric.

It's thrilling, surprisingly so, and Illinois' Lissie has perfected the art. In fact, it's just one trick in her bag of, er... tricks - as evidenced by an air-punching, hair-mussing, freewheeling rock revue she staged at Shepherd's Bush Empire on Tuesday.

She eases us in gently, with the country-tinged ballads Wedding Bells and Bully (during which her bassist Lewis Keller gamely doubles up on drums using a complicated system of pedals and levers).

The pace quickens with a song called, ironically, Sleepwalking, and soon you can't move for guitar solos. Eric Sullivan, on lead, pulls some incredible faces - "it's like he's having an orgasm in the middle of a maths exam," someone says - but even that can't take the focus off Lissie's incredible vocals.

Twice as powerful but half as shrill as Florence + The Machine, she belts out every song like it's a sermon. The 31-year-old has a raspy, dusty timbre that sounds like she swallowed a desert. On the acoustic numbers - They All Want You, Back To Forever - you can't keep your ears off her.

If there's a criticism, it's that the band sometimes get scrappy on the faster numbers - although it's nice to hear musicians getting carried away when so many gigs, even "authentic" rock shows, are controlled by click-track.

Anyway, the crowd lap it up - hollering the outro to Little Lovin' long after the song ends. "You're all so brave and participatory," coos Lissie, happily.

As the evening draws to a close, she's got a few stage tricks to spare, hurling a guitar offstage to her technician ("I've never done that before and I was waiting to mess it up but I didn't") and teasing the crowd over the encore.

"This is our last song," she announces, miming huge air quotes. "But we might come back if you freak out".

Freaking out duly ensues and Lissie sends us out into the night with a shot of Tequila and her sublime cover of Kid Cudi's Pursuit Of Happiness. "I think this is the longest set we've ever played," she declares. I'd have happily taken another hour...

Disclaimer: None of the photos above were taken last night, because I am the world's worst cameraman. If you were relying on my "skills" all you would have got is this...

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