Billy Lockett at the Borderline
The area of Soho around Manette Street is a guitarist’s haven; famous music shops like Duke of Uke and antique guitar sellers rub shoulders with rock ‘n’ roll bars, flanked with leather-clad biker rockers swigging pints. But will Manette Street’s the Borderline prove heaven or hell for Billy Lockett, singer-guitarist-songwriter and archetypal teen dream?
Lockett’s harem of sixth form-age admirers perch self-consciously on the stage awaiting Lockett’s arrival. When he skips onstage they go half wild for his close-cut drainpipes and schoolboy awkwardness. The one-man band routine in his opening track is technically impressive, beating a drum with a foot pedal along with clever guitar work. Lockett is an impressive musician, injecting every chord and quaver with energy and skill. Soon he’s perspiring heavily; his used towel is snatched up by a sheepish teenage girl in a trilby.
Steeping over to the piano, Lockett performs Hold Your Heart. His voice is strong, well-trained and lush. The piano composition is beautiful and the execution is faultless; Lockett finishes with perfect, clashing discord. What lets this song down in the saccharine, immature lyrics of juvenile romance. Without this cheesy vocal overlay, the piano piece would be a joy to listen to in its own right.
Toe-curling lyrics become a feature of the show, youthful escapades described in epic terms. One begins to dread the moments at which Lockett announces “this one’s about an ex-girlfriend”. Never Let You Go is gushing and yearns with unrequited love – not exactly c’est la vie à la Bob Dylan. These lines cheapen the emotional intensity of his musicianship.
With his naughty-but-nice stage banter and Byron-esque good looks, Lockett is a pop product, albeit very skilled, engineered to appeal both to teenage girls and their middle-class mothers. Judging by the watery-eyed masses mouthing along to every line, Lockett – a musician of discipline and passion – will be a sell-out act in this important market.
Photos: Rob Brazier
For further information and future events visit Billy Lockett’s website here.