Lissie @ Fairmount Theatre – 12th October 2015

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Montreal’s Fairmount Theatre is a fantastic venue to witness any live act, but tonight’s intimate, stripped down Lissie performance feels like something truly special. The 32 year old singer, Elisabeth Maurus to her mom, is more used to rocking out with her band, but tonight she stands alone, with only her acoustic guitar for company, watched by less than 100 fans. Those fans, however, greet her with a cheer that fills the room.

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It’s 9pm when Lissie casually wanders onto the Fairmount stage following a warm up set from California’s Chase Cohl. She opens with Bully from 2010’s Catching The Tiger album and it’s instantly apparent that this stripped back arrangement showcases Lissie’s extraordinary voice beautifully. Her vocals are breathtaking throughout the entire evening, moving from heartbreakingly fragile to soaring and powerful. Further Away demonstrates her knack for writing a great pop song, albeit with a Fleetwood Mac-esque rock sensibility.

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We’re introduced to a few new songs this evening, from her forthcoming album, that Lissie tells us is due in February. The first of these is Sun Keeps Risin’, written for her aunt who passed away after contracting ALS. “I still think of you every day, in a better place, that’s what they say” she sings as her audience quietly listens to every word. It’s a stand out moment, and it’ll be interesting to hear the finished recorded version when the time comes.

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Many of tonight’s songs focus on the subject of lost love. Stay, written in a parking lot after one particular guy informed her he was getting back with his ex, is another new song and sees Lissie at her most vulnerable. She tells us that writing songs helps her feel better and it’s often the melancholy tunes that resonate the most with her listeners. “I’m gonna play a few new songs in a row,” she announces. “It’s a little risky as you might turn on me” she says before adding “I’m just kidding. I could totally take you!”

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Of the more familiar material, it’s When I’m Alone and Sleepwalking that receive the biggest reaction. Neither song has quite the impact as when performed with a full band but, again, Lissie’s voice sounds phenomenal. She’s extremely chatty between songs, adding to the intimacy of the occasion, attempting to speak French which endears her yet more with the crowd. She talks about moving back to Iowa where she recently bought a farm and plans “on having bees”.

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The main set ends with the soaring In Sleep before returning with “one of my favourite songs that I’ve written”, Everywhere I Go which is yet another stand out moment in the set and her voice has never sounded so good. Her reputation for unusual cover versions – she’s covered artists as diverse as Judas Priest and One Direction – means most people tonight might be hoping for a cover to end the night, and they’re not left disappointed as she introduces her version of Kid Cudi’s Pursuit Of Happiness. It seems the perfect song for her too, with its against-the-grain attitude complimenting Lissie’s approach of doing things her own way rather than playing the industry game.

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Lissie deserves a far bigger audience and those who witnessed tonight’s show know how special she is. She’s a born star with an extraordinary talent. “Maybe we’ll see you in the spring” she says before saying goodbye. Don’t miss her if she comes back this way!

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Setlist:
Bully
Further Away
Sun Keeps Risin’
Sleepwalking
Shameless
Oh Mississippi
When I’m Alone
Stay
Ojai
Shroud
In Sleep
Encore:
Everywhere I Go
Pursuit Of Happiness

Review & photos – Steve Gerrard

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