Kelly Lee Owens at Electric Brixton
Last night’s show at Electric Brixton was Kelly Lee Owens’s first indoor London date in more than two years. The Welsh electronic artist had one of 2020’s most acclaimed albums with her second release, Inner Song, and is finally getting a chance to tour it. A packed venue gave her a joyous welcome at her biggest headline show in the capital to date, and she offered ecstatic thanks to the crowd.
Owens opened the set with the opening track of Inner Song: a cover of Radiohead’s Weird Fishes/Arpeggi that forgoes the vocal. She takes a part of the structure of the song or a mood and stretches the guitar line out into synthesiser loops, distilling the essence into a trance-like mediation. Here, the tracks’ spectral qualities give way to a more muscular and strident techno remix. As it is on the album, the song is a statement of her intent, mixing together both the iciness and warmth that electronic music can achieve to create something healing and cathartic.
The set was structured as one exaggerated crescendo, with the more dreamy tracks like Re-Wild and Keep Walking performed at the start, before an uplift halfway through to higher energy, rave-influenced tracks. The gear shift came in the middle of track On, which started woozily before becoming a throbbing anthem. Highlights included Jeanette (named for Owens’s late grandmother), which brought to mind Orbital, and Melt!, an unusually ecstatic musical response to climate change. Tracks like Night and Kingsize sounded huge while also breaking convention with their out-of-sync layers and unexpected beats that meander where one doesn’t expect. Sad banger L.I.N.E (Love is Not Enough) ruminates on the compromises demanded by relationships and feeling the loss of identity because of that.
Owens is a charismatic stage presence, dancing around her instruments, whooping and head-banging along to the livelier numbers. This is dance music that is both sensual and cerebral, and it felt healing for both performer and audience.
For further information and future events visit Kelly Lee Owens’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Melt! here: