Birdy at the Hammersmith Apollo
As anticipation builds around the release of her forthcoming album, Portraits (out on 14th July), Birdy graces a starry-eyed audience at the Hammersmith Apollo with her ethereally evocative sound and powerful vocal delivery. Judging by the songs that she has already released and performed – particularly Raincatchers and Automatic – this new album will be another deeply emotional, albeit more upbeat journey, testament to the singer-songwriter’s musical evolution and lyrical prowess.
Birdy is demure and not fond of small talk, at one with her music; she seems more comfortable and at ease when she can simply connect with her audience through her songs, existing in the liminal spaces that precede and follow the applause. There is a charming and captivating quality to the way she performs: her voice remains strong throughout, and her hand movements, when she is not playing the piano, suggest that she might actually be casting a spell or trying to hypnotise everyone. If that was the case, it’s unlikely anyone would complain.
The night beings with Raincatchers, fresh off the yet-to-be released record. It’s 80s alt-pop sound with roaring drums, reminiscent of and inspired by Kate Bush, but still all Birdy. In fact, while the work is uncharacteristically up-tempo, especially if compared to other, more stripped-down tracks from older albums, her signature resides within the lyrics, which deliver a deeply honest story of loss and rebirth, the present self that wishes to go back in time to guide the younger self and pull the inner child out of the deep well of adulthood. “We used to be rain-catchers / And we couldn’t see what we were running from / You made me feel like / Nothing really matters”.
The artist also played a few tracks from previous albums Beautiful Lies and Young Heart, respectively released in 2016 and 2021, including the heartbreaking Deep End and Young Heart. While performing slower, more melancholic songs like these, Birdy demonstrates a particular and unique talent: she knows exactly when, during the moments of quietness, it is time to let her voice soar and pull her audience back in, tugging at their heartstrings. And she always succeeds.
Her iconic cover of Skinny Love also remains just as powerful and impactful as the first time she performed it, and it will most likely always be a crowd-pleaser.
The very last offering of the night is, rather appropriately, the haunting Wings, from her second album Fire Within. At this point, people are dancing and standing; everyone seems to feel the same urge to move and sing along to the up-tempo chorus, “Oh, lights go down / In the moment, we’re lost and found / I just wanna be by your side / If these wings could fly”. These final minutes feel like a celebration a sorts, with every single person wanting to take part in honouring an incredibly talented young woman who can bathe in sunshine without worrying about her wings melting.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Birdy’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Heartbreaker here: