Laurel at the Dome
Midway through covering The Talking Head’s This Must Be the Place, Laurel stops and confesses to the audience that she can’t remember the lyrics, emits a relaxed chuckle and decides to start again. It’s the first time tonight that the 24-year-old singer, who released her debut album Dogviolet on 24th August, has shown her relative youth. Not that the crowd at the Dome cares; if anything this charming stumble has only added a missing sense of vulnerability to an otherwise remarkably self-possessed performance by an enormously promising artist.
Beginning with fan-favourite All Star, Laurel forms the front of a four-piece band, strumming her electric guitar with a reserved but marked swagger. The moody chords of the chamber pop ballads that make up most of tonight’s set serve as a perfect springboard for the piercing and rich howls that bursts forth from her lungs. This performance really is a showcasing of a breathtaking voice: a powerful, sonorous timbre that is melancholic, captivating and, most importantly, incredibly controlled. Easily moving from upper to lower registers she sustains each note with ease, perfectly matching her power to the venue’s size.
It’s when she is left to perform solo that we see a new side. Switching to acoustic guitar the artist mellows to a sweeter, more earnest style. Here she gives us South Coast, written about her hometown of Portsmouth, delivered in a wistful manner that she has held back till now, and follows it with Life Worth Living, one of her most popular tracks, which elicits rounds of cheers from the crowd.
Though her electric guitar and posturing suggest a rock sensibility, Laurel’s hook-heavy and chorus-dominated tunes highlight her pop pedigree. But this is subversive stuff. Each song she sings seems to contain elements of anger, lust and compassion, the focus really being on the grey areas and bittersweet elements of love. In Empty Kisses she pleads to a lover “give me your candy-coloured love”, both criticising a pastel-pink pop version of love, and simultaneously longing for it. This wry tone will no doubt see her carve a solid space for herself, especially as it is attached to one of the strongest and most intriguing voices in UK alt-pop. If tonight’s captivating performance was anything to go by, Laurel will be here to stay for a while.
For further information and future events visit Laurel’s website here.
Watch the video for Life Worth Living here: