Lissie at Union ChapelCultureMusicLive music
Under a backdrop of gorgeous stained glass and stone, Lissie’s look is unimposing: a plain white T-shirt, blue jeans and ankle high boots do little to give away the Californian’s angelic voice. Running straight on stage and into her set, stripped back opener Oh Mississippi immediately displays Lissie’s vocal talents. She performs without an opening act, but it doesn’t matter too much, the audience is here for her.
Of all the parts of her ever-fluctuating band, Lissie’s voice has the least trouble filling the chapel, and it’s that which is the biggest draw here. Only a handful of tracks manage to deviate meaningfully from the folk rock blueprint, making the set both familiar and occasionally repetitive. Hearing They All Want You with accompaniment from the chapel’s organ is a treat, but even here Lissie’s folk rock roots shine through.
With a three-piece string section, backing singers and a multi-talented band you’d think there’d be room for some more interesting arrangements, but unfortunately this isn’t the case for the most part. Record Collector is the most interesting structurally, collapsing into a middle eight only to furiously rebuild into a crashing crescendo for track’s finale.
It’s a strange crowd of fans that fills the echoey space at Union Chapel. When listing artists with regards to her penchant for covers, Judas Priest gets as big a cheer as One Direction. Fortunately Lissie goes with the former, performing a satisfying cover of Electric Eye. Judas Priest’s lyrical darkness fits well with her celestial vocals, and its absence, once heard, is missed in the rest of the set.
Lissie emotes heavily through every track. Travelling from despair on tracks like Here Before to utter joy on Little Lovin’ and whether on the verge of tears or pumping her fist in the air, she imbues each track with an emotional gravitas. Her last song, Further Away (Romance Police), is punchy and vibrant, ending the gig on an up note that wasn’t always present in the set.
Lissie continues to show great potential. Each time she performs the hallmarks of experimentation creep a little further in, making her sound feel more legitimate and absorbing. The covers that brought her to the publics attention are still the highlights of the set, but the folk rock still needs a little more of a twist to make it truly breathtaking.
Joe Manners Lewis
Photos: Charlotte Allen
For further information about Lissie and future events visit here.
Watch Lissie perform Oh Mississippi here: