Words + Photos: Brittany Long
Wednesday the 22nd of May was a momentous evening that will go down in history for The Corner Hotel, who played host to Laurel’s first ever Australian show. Laurel is an up and coming UK artist hailing from London and it’s her first time on Australian soil. Supported by dynamic duo, Sydney sisters Lily and Grace Richardson of Clews, the audience were in for a treat.
Clews are well-known for kicking ass, with songs incorporating big powerful choruses and heart exploding lyrics, and tonight was no exception. They got the night off to a great start with hit song ‘Salt’ which followed with ‘Newage’, the crowd getting into them right from the start. I personally was very excited to be seeing these women playing in Melbourne again, having first discovered them headlining their ‘Crushed’ tour, just a few months ago, and, most notably falling in love with their music!
‘Perfect Score’ echoed beachy surfer vibes and the audience were lapping it up! But it was fourth song ‘Teeth’ that was just something else entirely. ‘Teeth’ is and was my personal favourite, which saw the sisters jamming on their electric guitars, the essence of country rock echoing through the pitch-perfect vocals that left me with goosebumps! Accompanied by a powerful drum beat it was the perfect performance!
The mixture of orange and pink lighting provided the ambience for hit song ‘Museum’ aiding in giving the crowd a real feel for the song. The harmonies were exceptional and I even caught myself humming along.
2018 track ‘Crushed’ was up next and once again was an exceptional performance. I swear these sisters get better and better every-time I see them, and I’ve only seen them twice! Both Lily and Grace looked at home on the stage, and their relationship as sisters is very prominent, going back to back with their guitars on several occasions
Clews managed to pack in a solid setlist finishing with ‘Hollywood’ and ‘Feel’. Boy did they leave us feeling all kinds of things that’s for sure! Definitely a duo to keep an eye on! Can’t wait for their next appearance in Melbourne. Hint hint ladies.
Laurel took to the stage, barefoot and dressed in a simple, groovy, neutral coloured dress with a leaf pattern. Accompanied with some glittery eyeshadow and co-ordinating headband, she sent her fans crazy. Despite it being her first ever Australian show she already had a fairly decent Australian fan-base making themselves known, and, by the end of her set she had gained herself plenty more, including myself. Her audience consisted of a wide demographic ranging from teenagers to those more mature audience members.
Let it be known that her first ever song performed in Australia was 2018 song ‘Lovesick’ off her debut album Dogviolet, a moment I’m sure those in attendance will never forget. The soulful vibe accompanying that track definitely set the preface for the whole night. Her voice is very unique and something I haven’t come across before. Kudos also goes to her lighting technician Taylor who absolutely nailed her vibe with blue, yellow and white lighting showcasing her and her band.
Critically acclaimed for ‘making her music in her bedroom’ she then picked up an electric guitar to perform ‘Crave’ and she definitely left us craving more! Her vocals were so crisp they cut through the air like a knife, leaving her audience awestruck. Not to mention those “coo-ee” sounds – she nailed it!
Aperol Spritz in hand which she ‘had brought with her’ she raised it, mentioning “you guys are really great, it’s my first time in Australia so we are all still acclimatising.” ‘Hold Tight’ was next with Laurel emphasising that it was ‘one of her happier ones’ and it brought with it more incredible vocals from Laurel and backing from her band. ‘All Star’ showcased a lovely melody paired with guitar, while ‘Take It Back’ saw Laurel ditch the guitar and just sing. Wrapping herself in the microphone lead, twisting it around her arm and hanging it around her neck in a truly captivating display, I couldn’t look away.
Laurel honestly couldn’t have asked for a more supportive crowd to play her first Australian show to. They encouraged her the whole way through, with supportive comments and constant clapping and cheering. But it was during her solo performance of ‘Sun King’ where this was really seen. The mood changed and became sombre, with Laurel alone on the stage for the first time that night. There we learnt that ‘Sun King’ was her favourite and that “although it sounds sad, it’s actually a happy song.” She went on to explain how she “writes a lot of songs based on chapters of books she’s read.” Going on to dedicate her whole set to the person she wrote the entire album for, she revealed that that special person had recently died, and, in that moment our hearts broke for her. But she resolved to “have a f***** great night for him” to supportive cheers from the audience. She began singing and you could feel just how much the song meant to her and feel her pain from the loss. It pulled on the heart strings. Fighting back tears she struggled to get through the first few lines. Then pausing to take a break, the crowd urged her on and she restarted the song. It was at this point that it brought tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, but most understandably, Laurel had to cut the song short, just a few words in. Overcome with emotion she apologised “sorry I can’t sing this song right now, I’ll sing it for you later, after a few more songs”, thanking the audience for “their patience.”
Her band re-joined her onstage and they got straight into ‘Life Worth Living’, the first track on the Dogviolet album. The crowd loved it, with many fans joining in on the chorus “pull me in and let me go.” Her vocals were beautiful and guitar work by band member Polly and bassist Ted on point. Drummer Sam provided the perfect accompanying beat too.
Laurel’s sweet personality shone through the entire performance and you could not wipe the smile off her face, she was so happy to be there exclaiming “this is a great first show in Australia.”
‘South Coast’ brought with it a story and a dreamy vibe. “Written about somewhere pretty far away” she joked that she knew “because she’d just flown here from there” and that it had taken “f****** ages”. The high notes were nailed by Laurel with such precision and elegance.
‘Adored’ sure was a track adored by the audience. Announcing it as her “last song this evening” she emphasised that “if she played her encores now” then when the audience wanted her encores she’d “be f****” erupting with laughter.” I absolutely loved how genuine she was, not afraid to tell it how it is and be herself. It was an absolutely breathtaking performance and one which succeeded in bringing the volume up. She thanked the crowd and left the stage marking the end. Or so we thought. The crowd were screaming for more, and chanting for an encore.
But of course she wasn’t done, and one-by-one her band members returned to the stage with Polly urging on the crowd “that they’d have to be louder if they wanted Laurel to come back on”.
Eventually returning to the stage the support for Laurel was so moving. As she took to tuning her guitar she announced that “whilst tuning she sometimes thought she was in the wrong profession” causing an audience member to yell out “don’t ever stop making music!”, with Laurel reassuring us that she wouldn’t and “couldn’t if she tried” and that she “had tried”.
Closing the night with ‘Same Mistakes’ this had to be one of, if not my favourite song from her set. It was preaching to the masses, and relatable to most of the audience, describing the feelings associated when thinking about an ex being with someone else. Leaving the stage Laurel thanked everyone announcing that it had been “f***** amazing”.
Laurel’s debut Dogviolet album was performed almost entirely, except for missing tracks ‘Empty Kisses’ and ‘Recover’. Those in attendance were treated to an unforgettable performance. Laurel is on the up and up and I can’t wait to see what she does next. If you don’t know her music, or of her then do yourself a favour and check her out! I for one am so glad I did!
See the full gallery of images here.
Take It Back
Sun King (solo)
Life Worth Living