During tonight’s impressive set, Lissie tells us how one of her new songs is fundamentally about ambivalence. It’s not the greatest trait for a singer to be encouraging a live audience to adopt. But the Union Chapel crowd, and the venue is pretty packed, are more entranced than ambivalent. The beauty of this wonderful London venue is how respectful it makes the crowd, but the downside is that creating an atmosphere – other than reverential – is tricky. Lissie has played here before, so is more used to the extra restraint it imposes on London audiences that can often be pretty restrained anyway and she manages to engage with honest and down to earth chat inbetween songs.
The American is here to preview material for her forthcoming third album, which she confesses was not really planned. My Wild West will see her scale down her sound from the pop-rock of 2013’s Back To Forever, with a more reflective feel. No surprise then, that the newer songs work well in this acoustic backdrop, with Hero and the touching Sun Keeps Risin’ both standing out.
Before indulging herself by testing out her new album, Lissie runs through the likes of Record Collector, which gets the audience clapping along, as well as the terrific I Bet On You and the poppy When I’m Alone; all performed by just her on an acoustic guitar. Her voice is wonderful and she displays her full range. The chat (and she says she talks too much) also sees revelations about the different things that inspire her songwriting, with one song coming after watching The Big Bang Theory and another about the plight of women in Liberia. With such a varied source of inspiration, you can see how her new album might have happened by accident. What is no accident is Lissie’s popularity and tonight proves why her following is growing.