I always love gigs in the Academy 2. There’s just something about the place. Usually when you think of an ‘intimate venue’, you probably think of a tiny room with poor lights and sound. But The Academy 2 succeeds in being a beautiful, intimate venue, without losing the sense of a proper venue and who better to perform on that stage than 20 year old, British singer-songwriter, Lewis Watson?
The show opened with Dublin singer, Jack Lynskey. Although Jack has been in a band called ‘Easy Target’ and has been uploading videos to Youtube for some time, he isn’t very well known. Despite this, he came out and put on a brilliant show. It was obvious the guy was nervous, but as any musician will tell you; confidence is half the battle. He showed confidence and interacted with the crowd, and he certainly became more comfortable on stage as his set went on. Jack’s setlist was clever. As a relatively unknown songwriter, he introduced us to his own music, and also did a cover of “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse, encouraging the crowd to get involved and get a clap going. It’s always important, as a support act, to give the crowd something they’re familiar with and can sing along to, as well as playing originals of course, and Jack did exactly that.
It was then time for the second support act; Orla Gartland, who is definitely no stranger to the Academy 2 stage! With a similar sound to Lewis himself, this was going to be quite a comfortable performance for Orla, as the majority of people there were probably alread familiar with her music. Herself and Lewis have even done a cover of ‘Twist and Shout’ by The Beatles together, along with Hudson Taylor and Gabrielle Aplin.
Even beforehand, in the queue, people were singing Orla’s songs and talking about how they couldn’t wait to see her. This girl has had so much experience gigging that her performances are so lively and entertaining- this was no different. She kicked off her set by doing one of her well-known originals ‘The Ground’, and later did a fantastic cover of Ben Howard’s ‘Old Pine’. The whole way through her set, Orla spoke, and even cracked jokes with the crowd. Her witty sense of humour just makes her so much more enjoyable to watch, never mind her absolute passion for what she does. Orla is a fantastic songwriter, a beautiful singer, but over anything else; she’s a true performer.
When headline act, Lewis Watson arrived on stage, the sound of young girls screaming was almost deafening! Lewis dived straight in with his song ‘Once Before’. Barely opening his eyes for the entire song, I knew it was going to be an intense show throughout, which is something you get used to watching Lewis. He had the entire crowd staring up at him singing his lyrics back at him. The next song he played was one of his most well-known- ‘Bones’, before moving on to ‘Calling’. When this song was finished, he laughed and said “and that’s the end of happy songs for the night, sorry!”. I suppose, what can you expect from a guy who was selling EPs at the back of the venue (think he’d let us forget it? not at all!), called ‘Another Four Sad Songs’.
The thing about Lewis is, he doesn’t just step up on stage and sing for an hour and a half; he allows people to get to know him while he’s there. He told a story about each song before he played it and got the crowd very much involved in his performance. Watson knows how to please a crowd. A simple lyric tweak in his song ‘Calling’ made the Irish fans go crazy- “we got those good vibes from a GUINNESS can!”
One of Lewis’ newest songs, ‘Even If’, was the last song of the night. The music video for this song is yet to be made, and Lewis had the idea that the start of it would be a crowd of people at one of his shows singing the lyrics; this crowd, at the Academy 2. A photographer stepped up on stage and once Lewis counted to four, the crowd started singing. The sound of a crowd of people singing in sync is just such a lovely sound, and everyone kept perfectly in time with Lewis’ guitar. It was a beautiful way to end such a fantastic show.
Lewis came out his dressing room to meet everyone, as he signed tickets, EPs that people had just bought at the merch stand, and took pictures with people. Between an absolutely flawless performance, and such appreciation for the fans; Lewis is definitely on the list of people to see again!
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