When I arrived at the Phi Centre, the first thing I noticed was the simplicity of the venue. Its decor was minimalistic and pure with beautiful wood panelling, and the room was bathed in a red light. The simplicity of the room and the purity of the music would pair well. While my initial draw to the show was Charlie Cunningham, my exploration of Lucy Rose’s discography left me even more excited to see her than Charlie.
As Charlie Cunningham came onto stage, I immediately noticed the nylon strings on his guitar. He began by showing off his abilities as a guitarist, picking the Flamenco-style introduction to “Telling It Wrong.” While I had appreciated his skill as a guitarist, I hadn’t noticed how much he was influenced by the percussive flamenco style until the show, when he talked about his two years in Spain learning the style.
He continued with “While You Are Young,” which was slower and sweeter, before returning to his influences. He explained that he would play a flamenco tune before returning to his own songs, providing a “link and all that.” He then played “You Sigh,” probably his most overtly flamenco song. He finished his set with “Minimum,” which was even more impressive live than on the record.
Lucy Rose began with “Intro” from her most recent album Something’s Changing. It was a beautiful song to begin a beautiful set. She moved seamlessly into the second track of the album, “Is This Called Home.” While the sound was as pure and beautiful as Charlie Cunningham’s, there was something decidedly different about it. There was something more raw and emotional.
One of my favorite tracks off of the new album was “Strangest Of Ways,” which she played next. It features a more upbeat, distinctive rhythm that shifted the mood of the room, which continued with “Middle of the Bed” from her debut.
My highlight of the night was certainly her performance of “Morai.” She prefaced it with the story of the Morai, the Greek embodiments of fate, and how it’s hard to believe some people are fated to live with the misfortunate cards that they are dealt. Summing it up bluntly she said, “Fate is a dick.” The pairing of her voice with the piano and violin was the most beautiful and emotional part of the night, bringing me to the verge of tears.
The beautiful piano chords of “Second Chance,” while familiar, are sculpted into a new and beautiful song, highlighting her unique voice. The emotion from the previous song still in the room, she’s able to repurpose it. The juxtaposition of the “you” in “Morai” and the “you” in “Second Chance” transformed the sense of the hopelessness and frustration due to your circumstances into an appreciation of life in all of its forms, its highs and its lows.
After these emotionally-charged songs, she was able to diffuse that emotion with comic relief. Deciding to have a beer and not having a bottle opener, she skillfully used her plastic water bottle to pop the cap off, promising that it wasn’t planned and she had never done it on stage before. She brought Charlie Cunningham to the stage as backup vocals for “Nebraska,” complimenting him as the best support act she’d been lucky enough to tour with. She played “Scar,” an obscure bonus off of her first album, as a request from a longtime fan, and after beginning in the wrong tuning adjusted it and picked up where she left off without skipping a beat.
She returned to her most recent record, which was completely inspired by her travels around Latin America, by telling the story of Fernando, a Paraguayan fan. Frustrated with his circumstances and wanting to help him in some way, she had asked him what she could do. He responded by saying that all he wanted was a new record, so she recorded one, including a song specifically for him, “I Can’t Change It All.” It is an exceptionally stunning song that was unfortunately interrupted when she spilt her beer. She apologized, promising that the song was more beautiful than it had come out and stating that she had “never claimed to be professional.” Closing the show with her most well-known song “Shiver,” she encouraged the audience to sing along. It was a fitting end to an amazing show.
The show was filled with moments of honesty and realness rarely seen in live shows, which are often rehearsed down to the banter in between songs. Although not quite the emotional song that closes the album, “I Can’t Change It All” was a memorable point of the show. Live shows shouldn’t be about re-capturing the “perfection” of an album but should capture these moments of realness, giving you a glimpse of who they are not only as an artist but as a person. The banter in between songs and the interruptions within them endeared Lucy Rose to me. I have never left a show more determined to overcome my ineptitude as a musician and pick up a guitar or the piano in an attempt to produce music as enjoyable and meaningful as hers.
Is This Called Home
Strangest Of Ways
Middle of the Bed
I Can’t Change It All