Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Live Review :: Lapsley :: Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff - Oct 29 2015


Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

October 29 2015

Words / Photos: Pollyanna Sheehan

'Lapsley' is the moniker used by the unquestionably talented artist, producer and multi-instrumentalist Holly Fletcher. After having already received daytime airplay on BBC Radio 1, and a place on the Sound of 2015 long list, it’s apparent that Lapsley’s unique sound has resonated with a wider audience. And if this packed Cardiff crowd is anything to go by, there’s definitely an appetite for her niche minimalistic electro-acoustic style.

Her performance features many electronic components from synths to the layering pre-recorded vocals and programmed drumming - all of which were masterfully executed in a live setting. Earlier tracks in the set like ‘Burn’ not only gave a taste of Lapsley’s capability to quickly build intensity through the use of heavy synths and layered vocals, but also showed her ability to unsettle the audience as she immediately took it away. Live, her vocal fragility creates a melancholy soundscape full of intense blue and longing that lingers during the set and continues to haunt you a little afterward. With a portrayal of a magnitude of such intensity and maturity, it really is a surprise to discover that Lapsley is still a mere 19-years-old. The lyrical simplicity of ‘Dancing’ exemplifies the sharp insights explored by Lapsley as she laments, “I’ve always been the understudy/I know you will never love me”. Her ability to package the vulnerability in these sentiments gives Lapsley a widespread appeal, and the live show communicates this emotional intensity.

At times during latter part of the set on ‘Station’ and ‘Falling Short’ her vocal appears heavily reverbed, whereas tracks like ‘Painter’ allow her voice to delicately weave and become the melodic focus, with the addition of short repetitive piano lines. Mid-set, Lapsley delights the crowd with a cover of The Weeknd’s ‘The Hills’, which is in contrast to her self-described “moody stuff”. It’s an exciting and crowd-loving live extra, that surprisingly fits into place with the surrounding tracks.

Falling through her set with ease, she pauses briefly between tracks to chat with the crowd as though she’s been at this for years: her polished set and on-stage confidence never faltering. Unlike the typical late-teen, Lapsley already has Bestival and Glastonbury performances under her belt and her presence this evening demonstrates a refreshingly higher level of maturity than other young adult artists.

Before penultimate track ‘8896’, Lapsley jokingly shares how she always wanted to be a rapper, but her manager apparently cut her off with a simple “na, mate” – much to the crowds amusement. Yet this anecdote does explain the more upbeat, r&b vocal style of this track, and the clear underlying hip-hop rhythms that also feature. It’s definitely an exciting twist that adds to the unique sound being created by Lapsley. Closing the set is crowd favourite ‘Hurt Me’, which sees the continued use of intriguing vocal effects, synths and layered samples showcase her trademark intensity in an upbeat fashion as well as providing the perfect end to this incredible show.

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