Laura Groves at St Pancras Old Church
Formerly known as Blue Roses and a member of the band Nautic, Yorkshire girl Laura Groves now performs under her own name and has a new EP entitled Thinking about Thinking, out on DEEK Recordings. Tonight we see her perform at St Pancras Old Church in Kings Cross, which despite the name is actually still a fully operational church, home to regular sermons.
The venue is smaller and less impressive than expected: daylight is streaming in and the atmosphere is akin to that of Sunday mass or a village hall talent show. Opening act Aldous R H, (Egyptian Hip Hop’s frontman gone solo) faces the daunting task of performing a set of wildly experimental lo-fi psychedelia to a seated audience, with only a backing track playing from his laptop in place of his usual band. The crowd have no idea what to make of him.
When Groves and her band appear, night has set in and a new atmosphere takes hold. Her vocal performance is arresting and flawlessly controlled and her new material displays a bold shift from airy folk-pop to icy, haunting ballads sounding stronger than ever. Performed live, her songs sound remarkably close to her recordings – a testament to her unwavering focus and technical ability (she shifts between keyboard and guitar throughout the set).
The highlight is Inky Sea, a song that sounds like its title: here Groves layers moody, blunted synths that reverberate and cast a murky blackness around her voice, which cuts through the malaise like a searchlight; sometimes faint, other times clear and bright. “Follow me, follow me” comes her siren call as she leads us through the song’s depths, permeated by sparkles of high keys. There is a sense that we are descending deeper and deeper as the song progresses, uncertain of what it is we are searching for. As the song builds, heavy piano chords begin to steadily hammer towards a climax; Groves’ voice soars “I’m here and I’m safe” and we feel as though blinding white spotlights are being switched on all around us, illuminating the ocean floor.
Like the early stages of getting to know someone and seeing them suddenly drop their guard for the first time, there is a stark transformation in Groves when she sings – a mixture of presence and vulnerability that appears in a flash and dissipates as each song ends. Kate Bush comparisons aside, it must be said that Groves’ music seems to come from a place that is deeply and uniquely her own.
For further information about Laura Groves and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Inky Sea here: